The San Juan Daily Star
Fiscal board asks gov’t to submit a budget for UPR based on $1.12 billion revenue forecast
By The Star Staff
The Financial Oversight and Management Board has asked the central government to submit by May 19 a 2023-24 fiscal year budget for the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) based on a revenue forecast of $1.12 billion.
A letter sent to Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and legislative leaders last Friday by the oversight board’s executive director, Robert Mujica, states that the board’s goal is to be able to notify the governor of any violations to the fiscal plan by June 2 and to have a revised budget by June 16.
The revenue forecast provided by the oversight board includes $72 million in revenue from slot machines, $114 million in research grants and $256 million in Pell and other student aid grants.
Last year, UPR had a consolidated budget of about $1.16 billion.
The request from the oversight board comes after UPR President Luis A. Ferrao Delgado told lawmakers last week that the university would operate with a $27 million deficit at the end of the fiscal year on June 30 that it expected to close through cuts and other funds.
“Even with the reductions in payroll expenses and other savings, the institution’s General Fund budget is insufficient,” Ferrao Delgado. “Extraordinary increases such as electricity have caused the system units to operate without room for maneuvering.”
He indicated that the deficit of $27 million is the difference between the 2022 budget of $773.8 million and the annual projected spending for fiscal year 2022-2023, which is $801 million.
According to an explanatory memorandum submitted by the UPR president, the deficit corresponds mainly to the UPR-Río Piedras and the UPR-Mayagüez (RUM by its Spanish acronym) campuses, the Agricultural Extension Service, the Medical Sciences Campus (RCM) and the branch campuses in Utuado, Carolina, Arecibo and Ponce.
Ferrao Delgado is requesting a $793 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2023-2024.
UPR sought $71.5 million for the operations of several institutions, including the Mayagüez Trauma Center.
Ferrao Delgado criticized the cut of the state contribution to UPR, which is slated to be $500 million for the next fiscal year because as part of the use of the funds the oversight board said a portion should be used to fund the seismic network and medical student internships.
For more than 10 years, students and teachers have not seen improvements to compensate for inflation, the UPR president said. To the contrary, they have seen their benefits continually diminished and restricted. On the one hand, students have experienced enrollment increases of 175 percent while the services they receive and the student experience have been compromised by insufficient budgets, he said.
“Neither the students nor the employees can continue to bear the brunt of it, ” Ferrao Delgado stressed.
He emphasized the need to approve $631 million as an unrestricted allocation for the institution, instead of $500 million.