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UA System board seeks 15% boost in state funds

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — The University of Alabama System board of trustees has approved seeking a slightly more than 15 percent increase in state funding for its three campuses.

State funding for the UA System currently is $611 million. If approved by the Legislature, the proposed increase for the 2008-09 budget, which begins Oct. 1, would give the system about $703 million.

System Chancellor Malcolm Portera said Friday the system’s requested increase is based on its needs, but he said the years of such hefty increases may be numbered.

“I think the future is going to be a challenge for us financially,” Portera said. “Much will depend on how the economy goes nationally, but we are seeing evidence that the good years we’ve seen recently may be ending.”

There’s already evidence of that in state tax collections for the Education Trust Fund. For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, tax collections for the fund grew by just 6.5 percent. Growth in collections for that fund exceeded double-digit increases 2004-06.

The fund is the primary source of revenue for schools, colleges and universities.

At the end of the 2007 fiscal year, the fund fell short of its predicted growth. Of the $425 million that was expected to carry over into the current fiscal year, only $275 million will actually be carried, said Frank Gitschier with the Legislative Fiscal Office.

That means the state will likely dip into reserve accounts to meet the 2008 budget, said Susan Cagle, director of institutional finance and facilities for the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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