RICHMOND, AUG. 28 -- State Education Secretary James W. Dyke Jr. has told George Mason University to slash spending by about $3.8 million, a cut that could lead to layoffs and unpaid leave for employees, officials said today.
The cut represents 5.6 percent of the annual state appropriation to the Northern Virginia institution, and is part of Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's plan to make up a $1.4 billion decline in projected state revenue without raising taxes.
In another development, Wilder released memos this week, which he received in July, outlining possible cuts by all state agencies. The proposed cuts would affect virtually every function of state government.
Dan Walsh, a George Mason spokesman, said Dyke informed the university last week of the amount that the school's state aid would be reduced, and told administrators at the Fairfax City campus to give him a list of specific savings.
A list of possible savings submitted by university President George W. Johnson to state budget officers last month said a 5 percent funding cut would require a three-day unpaid "furlough" for all university employees, and the reduction of 100 staff positions through a hiring freeze and layoffs.
Walsh said no final decisions on the list of savings have been made, but he said they will probably roughly follow Johnson's proposals.
That memo -- similar to ones Wilder made all state agencies file detailing what would happen if their budgets were cut by up to 5 percent -- said cuts could not be made without seriously impairing operations at the rapidly growing school.
A hiring freeze has been in effect at the university since January, and continuing it would mean "the plant would not be properly maintained, the faculty would not be adequately supported, students would not be admitted, registered, billed or processed in a timely fashion. In general, management standards would not be maintained . . . . "
George Mason is the second area institution to face job losses. Northern Virginia Community College announced last week that it was eliminating 105 teaching and administrative positions through a hiring freeze and layoffs.
Dyke could not be reached for comment.
Wilder, however, cautioned people against assuming that the possible cuts outlined by state agencies in their July memos will look anything like the ones he actually orders.
For example, Wilder scoffed today at a suggestion from state corrections officials that the Mecklenburg Correctional Center be closed to save money. Wilder called that "a draconian proposal" and said there was "no chance at all" that would be on a list of savings that he is expected to detail for the General Assembly next month.
Wilder today rejected a request by Senate Majority Leader Hunter B. Andrews (D-Hampton) that he file his proposed budget amendments with the General Assembly by Oct. 1.
"I've been here 20 years, and never has a budget been filed that soon," Wilder said.
The July list of agency cuts, made public this week, provides more insight than any statements from the administration so far of what the actual impact of Wilder's cuts may be on actual programs.
The cuts outlined by the state agencies would affect every Virginian in ways large and trivial. Among the proposed savings:
The State Police, if asked to take a 5 percent cut, would have to lay off 26 employees, leave at least 23 other positions unfilled, and turn patrol cars off for 10 minutes every hour to save gas. Such cuts would "reduce patrol service to an unsatisfactory level," the police agency's memo concluded.
All 10 of the "Welcome Centers" along Virgina interstates would be closed, and 40 employees laid off, under a proposal to slash the Division of Tourism by 5 percent.
The Department of Health, one of the state's largest agencies, would lose $5.5 million under a 5 percent cut. That would affect everything from the hours that 20 AIDS clinics are open to the number of school-based health programs for poor children, according to an agency memo.
Backlogs in the courts, a severe problem in Virginia for many years, would get worse if the state court system were forced to reduce staffing positions to save $3 million. In his memo to budget officers, Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico said the cuts "will cause the courts to be unable to function at an acceptable level."
Several universities, including Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, said they wanted to impose tuition surcharges to offset funding cuts. Wilder earlier this year warned the state's institutions against raising tuitions rather than cutting costs.
The State Water Control Board said funding cuts would slow its ability to implement programs to clean up the polluted Chesapeake Bay.