Winona State budget projected to worsen

Winona State budget projected to worsen

Madelyn Swenson, News Editor

Winona State University’s budget deficit could worsen by millions of dollars for next year’s budget, according to Scott Ellinghuysen, chief budget officer.

Ellinghuysen said that in his 20 years at Winona State he has not seen this much uncertainty within a budget.

The total estimated deficit range from $2.5 million to $8 million.

However, no action has been taken by the president’s cabinet. The University Finance and Facilities Committee is in the process of reviewing all the information and making recommendations of what to do.

One of the major uncertainties within the budget is the salary negotiations for university staff, as this makes up to 80 percent of the overall budget.

The staff salaries are negotiated through unions such as the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) or America Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Earlier in October contracts were sent to MAPE and AFSCME to be finalized. However, they were denied.

This means that negotiations have to continue not only with these two unions, but every other union that university employees belong to.

These negotiations could last as long as six months. However, Ellinghuysen said that it is highly unlikely for that to happen.

It would be unlikely for the university to lay off any employees but according to Ellinghuysen it has not been discussed.

“We haven’t really gotten down to it. I think as a general rule we try to avoid layoffs,” Ellinghuysen said. “In the past we have done things like retirement incentives.”

One other large uncertainty is the decline in student enrollment. Enrollment is projected to slip by about two percent by next year.

However, this could have a larger effect on the student senate budget than anything else that has to do with the university budget.

Student Senate gets its budget from student fees that are wrapped up with tuition.

Christina Melecio, Student Senate treasurer, said “the only way [the budget deficit] effects our budget is when enrollment goes down.”

Currently, it is estimated that $1.1 million dollars has been lost due to a drop in student enrollment.

Ellinghuysen says that there are currently scenarios in place for a $2 million deficit to a $500,000 surplus for the next budget.

“We are in the first phases of this,” Ellinghuysen said. “From there you need to make plans on how you are going to solve it.”