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Associated Press Next year's budget falls short by $2.5 million

BOZEMAN (AP) - Montana State University will freeze faculty salaries and cut proposed spending increases to wipe out a $2.5 million shortfall in next year's budget, interim President Terry Roark said Friday.

"There was no good alternative," he told a meeting of administrators, deans and the university's budget committee.

Faculty representatives objected to the loss of their 3 percent raise. It will save the university more than $1.1 million.

Faculty representatives had recommended not funding new programs, cutting some existing ones and tightening the budgets of deans and athletics.

But Roark said faculty members have received raises the past four years. He said students will be minimally affected by the decision to freeze pay whereas with other alternatives, education might be hurt. No cuts will be made to base programs.

Classified employees, whose raises were approved by the Legislature, will still receive the pay increase. Some areas that will get additional funding include the library, nursing projects in Billings and Kalispell and the marching band.

The budget problem was created by a combination of a deficit in the Athletic Department, a long wish list of new spending proposals, increased operating costs and a projection of no growth in enrollment.

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