The provincial government brought down its 2018-19 budget today with no new announcements of additional cuts in its grant to Memorial University beyond those already anticipated in the three-year forecast provided last year.
The total operating grant from government is $5.13 million less for 2018-19 than it was in 2017-18. This net reduction is the result of a $4-million increase in the line item earmarked to maintain the tuition freeze for Newfoundland and Labrador students, and reductions of $9.13 million in the base budget.
Additionally, in late 2017 the university was advised by government that we would need to find the funds to address the unfunded liability of the university pension plan without special payments from government. We are currently in negotiations with our union groups around pension models and at this point the exact expense that we would need to cover is not known, but will need to be addressed once that work is finalized.
In May 2017, the Board of Regents passed a three-year budget plan to address the forecasted cuts. In 2018-19 that means finding savings of $5.13 million before inflation, and does not include the as yet unresolved pension solution or a long-term budget allocation to address serious deferred maintenance needs.
In terms of next steps, we will continue the work necessary to finalize the 2018-19 budget for consideration by the Board of Regents at the May board meeting. I want to thank each member of the university community for your hard work and dedication during what I know are difficult times.
Also in the budget today, government announced an independent review of the province’s post-secondary education system. We look forward to learning more about that process as it unfolds.