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YSU makes correct cuts to spending

Proactive efforts announced Tuesday to cut spending at Youngstown State University turned out to be the correct first steps, especially considering the governor’s announcement one day later to slash state education funding.

YSU President Jim Tressel is leading the efforts to reduce spending by cutting his own $309,575 salary by 15 percent, he announced Tuesday. Additionally, 100 nonunion employees will take salary reductions ranging from 2 to 10 percent. All told, these salary reductions will mean an annual savings of $700,000.

Next, the university is asking employees to increase their contributions to their health care costs in 2021. Officials are examining further strategies for reductions in personnel costs, including possible furloughs, layoffs and other actions.

The announcement from YSU came one day before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told Ohioans he would cut $110 million in higher education spending as part of his plan to slash $775 million from the state’s budget in response to the effects COVID-19 has had on the budget and economy.

Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management said this week the cuts will equate to about 3.8 percent for each public university. Specifically, Youngstown State University’s funding was cut by $1,663,970.

YSU further projects an $8.7 million reduction in state funding during the 2021 fiscal year and a loss of up to $1 million in investment income, according to Tressel. The university does not know how the pandemic will affect next school year’s enrollment. Revenue earned through housing, dining and parking, totaling almost $8 million per year, also may be threatened, according to Tressel.

The proactive plan of attack by YSU officials sends the right message to the community and to students.

The fact is, no one knows for sure how much COVID-19 will affect the bottom line of all governmental entities.

But we cannot put off making fiscal adjustments.

Hard decisions must be made now, and YSU is taking the correct approach.

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