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Oldham Expects Budget Conversations To Be “A Little Tougher” This Year

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Oldham Expects Budget Conversations To Be “A Little Tougher” This Year

A new semester opened on the Tech Campus Thursday and President Phil Oldham preparing his syllabus for the Tennessee Legislature.

Governor Bill Lee expected to release his budget plan for the 24-25 fiscal year in February. Oldham said sales tax revenues have been running a bit below estimates so far this fiscal year.

“I sort of anticipate this year to be a little tighter financially than maybe the past few,” Oldham said. “But Tennessee continues to be a very financially well-managed state and in a very enviable position among most of our peer states.”

“But, yeah, it probably will be a little tougher sled this year.”

The state prioritized K-12 education as well as a “generational” investment into the TCAT program statewide during the last budget cycle. Major building projects at universities across the state were not funded.

Oldham said Tech has a number of building projects underway, but the ongoing maintenance is just as much a priority.

“To be able to maintain the campus in a good fiscal shape is very important,” Oldham said. “And every year we aren’t able to reach that kind of milestone, then we fall further.”

During the last Board of Trustees meeting, officials talked about the work that had been doing on the physical plant in the last several years, trying to catch up from budget cuts during the late 2000s recession. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission asked for $251 million in capital maintenance across all the campuses statewide.

Oldham said he would appreciative legislative support of the cost increases on the new building projects cause by inflation. “Some assistance with those is a pretty high priority,” Oldham said.

The Governor held budget hearings with all state departments in November. THEC included a new $90 million classroom building for Tennessee Tech’s College of Arts and Sciences in its priorities for the new budget year, ranking the facility fifth.

“The leadership we’ve had in Nashville has been very supportive of higher ed and placed that as a priority most years, and so we’ve certainly benefited from that,” Oldham said. “And I expect that they’ll be able to give us all the support that’s possible this year as well.”


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