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Facing the threat of coronavirus-driven state budget cuts, the University of Idaho is considering mandatory employee furloughs, writes Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richer. The proposed furlough plan would cut about $3.3 million in spending, U of I President C. Scott Green said in a memo to staff and faculty Monday.

“I appreciate the efforts already being made to carefully weigh any hiring, delay start dates and continue to watch for any cost savings through open positions,” Green said. “This alone is not enough to meet the financial burden we are under.”

The new budget year doesn’t begin until July 1, but the state has already seen a precipitous 60 percent drop in tax revenues for April. While state economists say those tax revenues should rebound in June, Gov. Brad Little has ordered all state agencies to brace for a potential 5 percent budget cut in 2020-21.

For the U of I, a 5 percent general fund budget cut equates to $4.7 million, so a furlough plan would help offset much of the cut, Green said Monday.

Under the proposal, all employees would be required to take 24 hours of furlough between June 28 and Jan. 23, 2021. Employees making higher salaries would be required to take additional furloughs.

All told, the furloughs would cut employee salaries by an average of 2.8 percent, but reductions would vary from 1.15 percent to 5.8 percent.

BSU and ISU have already spelled out cost-cutting plans designed to offset state revenue reductions. You can read Richert's full report here at idahoednews.org.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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