For the first time in its 19-year history, the state Board of Regents will consider suspending its fall budget hearings because of the tax-limitation cloud hanging over higher education.
Wm. Rolfe Kerr, commissioner of higher education, will recommend to the regents at their Friday meeting that the they delay their traditional budget deliberations until after the November general election. The regents' executive committee has already approved the suspension."It would be unproductive for the members of the Board of Regents, institutional presidents and other concerned groups to spend time deliberating budgetary needs when we face the uncertainties of the November election," Kerr said in a memo mailed with the meeting agenda to the regents this week.
Kerr told the Deseret News the possible suspension of hearings does not reflect a pessimism but realism. He said he is "really proceeding optimistically, hoping that the tax initiatives won't pass and citizens will vote knowledgeably on the issues."
If the tax-limitation measures do pass, however, the regents can then move up their November meeting to consider possible cuts in higher education, he said.
The regents have said the $34 million in cuts proposed by tax limitation could result in eliminating 8,000 to 10,000 students, raising tuition 25 to 30 percent and curtailing programs.