The budget process

Distribution of this issue of State magazine comes as the South Dakota Legislature and Governor Dennis Daugaard attempt to close a structural deficit of $127 million for Fiscal Year 2012.

Alumni living in or near South Dakota undoubtedly have heard about the proposals to reduce general fund appropriations 10 percent across all branches of state government. For our University, this action would cut about $4.9 million in funding for the institution, a little more than $1 million for the Agricultural Experiment Station and $818,000 for the Cooperative Extension Service.

Cuts of this proposed magnitude will affect South Dakota State University, particularly after reduced appropriations in Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011. It is commonly known that a large portion of higher education expenses are dedicated to compensation for faculty and staff. As an illustration of the potential impact, the proposed $4.9 million cut is the equivalency of seventy-five to seventy-eight jobs for faculty and staff.

The proposed disinvestment by state government comes at a time when our University has been averaging 3.7 percent annual growth in enrollment over the last decade and 368 percent growth in research since 2002. The impact on students and our state will not be trivial. With an employment multiplier of 2.5, each University job creates an additional 1.5 jobs in South Dakota, mainly in the Brookings region.

Members of the Joint Committee on Appropriations asked university presidents what practices would stop, change, and start if state funding were reduced again. My response then was rather basic: South Dakota State will continue to implement the 2008-2012 strategic plan of the University, driving costs from operations with an aggressive focus on activities and programs central to the core mission of a comprehensive teaching and research land-grant university.

The University’s mission is straight-forward—to create a prosperous future through excellence in education, in innovation, and new knowledge creation, and in putting knowledge to work.

I have mentioned in venues including town-hall meetings and radio interviews that the Fiscal Year 2012 budget will be the product of a process that started in December with the governor’s budget address, as prescribed by law, and ends when the Board of Regents sets tuition at its spring meeting.

Following that, University decisions will be made with respect to aligning expenditures with expected revenue for the next year. Deans and vice presidents are planning scenarios based on certain levels of state support and tuition revenues. A new Faculty Senate Budget Advisory Committee will be participating in the assessment of options and alternatives to align Fiscal Year 2012 expenditures and revenues. Changes at State will occur with well-thought-out details determined once total revenues for next year are known.

Uncertainty surrounding Fiscal Year 2012 state funding has created anxiety throughout the University and beyond. I can assure alumni and friends of our University, in South Dakota, and across the nation, that the direction for the University remains consistent with our collective expectations.

David L. Chicoine, Ph.D.
Class of 1969

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