Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the budget deficit for fiscal year 2017 is $304 million , so how will this shortfall impact higher education? Higher Ed Commissioner Joe Rallo says there has been talk of using the state’s Rainy Day Fund to offset some of the deficit. But Rallo says if lawmakers decide against, it could be detrimental to higher education.

“So $66 million would be roughly a 46% budget cut with only a few weeks left in the year, would be very, very difficult for the campuses to manage.”

Rallo says each university is different, but the first thing many schools would be forced to cut is instruction. He says the projected deficit would be substantially lowered with the use of the Rainy Day Funding, leading to less cuts to higher ed.

“It’s devastating no matter what you do but at this late time in the year, it’s very difficult to come to grips with $66 million but certainly, a number higher than that.”

House Republican lawmakers have voiced concerns with using the Rainy Day Fund to offset the shortfall. But Rallo says we’re in real trouble.

“The governor and Commissioner Dardenne have indicated a desire to use the Rainy Day Fund, which would lower the projected deficit but even so we’re looking at $66 million.”