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WVU watches Charleston for budget certainty

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University leaders are hopeful there is still room for negotiation in the state budgeting process.

“We knew we would have to give something but a cut of that magnitude for the university, we think, is unwarranted,” Rob Alsop said on WAJR’s Morgantown AM Tuesday.

House and Senate representatives agreed to a budget on the final day of the 2017 legislative session that makes $110 million in cuts.

Under the plan West Virginia University would lose $15.8 million according to Alsop, the Vice President for Legal, Government and Entrepreneurial Engagement.

“We are hopeful that sometime before now and July first that part of that will be fixed so our reduction in appropriation isn’t quite so large.”

Governor Jim Justice had proposed a budget plan that called for $4.4 million in cuts from the university’s budget.

On April 4 WVU President Dr. E. Gordon Gee wrote to the WVU community asking for pressure on lawmakers to lean toward Justice’s plan. He argued WVU has already experienced $96 million in reduced funding in the last five years.

“I know we have to be, as a state agency, a part of the solution. But, we’re an economic engine that deserves to be invested in. And, we’re going to continue to make our case,” Alsop explained noting discussions with the Governor have been ongoing since Saturday’s budget agreement from legislators.

Both Gee and Alsop have indicated a reduction in force could be necessary as the budget cuts increase. Legislation passed early in the session gives higher education institutions more control of their staff by eliminating protections like bumping, recall procedures and seniority calculations.

“Most other schools have a mix of performance, skills and seniority. So, now we have the flexibility with that moving forward as we would move forward and have to make any of those decisions. That’s not our intent or design. But, it’s another tool in the tool box,” said Alsop.

According to Alsop, WVU was the only school in the Big XII conference to limit job consideration to seniority.

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