Possibility of more budget cuts looming for ND universities

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) More budget cuts are likely coming to North Dakota universities.

Governor Burgum has proposed cutting from higher education in the next biennium budget.

If the cuts happen as purposed it would mean North Dakota has axed one third of the funding for higher education in the last four years.

The cuts are effecting students, like Megan Lauck who is about to graduate and become an Occupational Therapist.

She said she'll graduate, "May 12th, I'll be gone May 13th."

Lauck said in the last few years she's noticed changes in her education.

"In the past couple years, there's been some cuts with the adjunct professors we've had. For us specifically, that was one of our labs," she said.

One important class was no longer offered, so some students tracked down the teacher and paid out of pocket to be taught the lesson.

"He came in for a two-day, quick, 16-hour, little course on a Friday and Saturday. And we paid a little under 300 dollars per person for that," Lauck said.

Now, Governor Burgum is asking for 10 percent to come out of operating budgets for universities.

"The state economy is not where any of us wish it was and that's a reality," said UND spokesperson Peter Johnson.

UND has gone through this song and dance before. Deep cuts in the last biennium caused them to slash personnel, leading to less classes offered, along with the axing of entire sports programs like baseball, swimming and women's hockey.

"Nobody wants to make cuts, ever. But, all of state agencies are going to have deal with some budget cuts and we understand that," Johnson said.

UND officials say it's too early in the process to speculate how another round of cuts would effect them, but are facing the realities of a slumping economy.

"We are very early in this process. But, I think the thing people need to keep a mind, is that the state economy is not where we wish it would be," Johnson said.

Less state funds keeping the financial pressure high on universities statewide.

University officials say they will have a much better idea how the state's budget will affect them this fall when proposals start to get finalized.