I'm sure that you all have seen that our state government is in pretty poor shape these days. Things are looking especially bad for the AZGS as more budget cuts are needed. Up to now the AZGS has managed to not significantly reduce the services that it provides, but that will no longer be the case with this next round of cuts. As a result, the AZGS is requesting comments as to what parts of its mission are critical and what parts expendable.
A review panel of stakeholder organizations will meet in early October to help advise AZGS on the tough decisions ahead. AEG will be a part of this review panel. I'm asking all of you (members and non-members) to please comment so that your input can be included. Lee Allison (the State Geologist and director of the AZGS) is posting about this on his blog at http://arizonageology.blogspot.com/. His original post on the issue can be found at http://arizonageology.blogspot.com/2009/09/what-should-we-eliminate-in-next-round.html. He will also be posting the services and activities that are on the chopping block, so check back often.
Below, I've copied some of the email that Lee sent me that outlines just how bad the situation is.
We have to submit plans for 15-20% cuts in the current budget by October 10, based on permanent elimination of AZGS programs. No other options (furloughs, salary reductions, spreading cuts around) will be considered.
The situation is more desperate than might seem apparent. The cuts would take place in January, which means we have to implement a full year’s cuts in 6 months. This results in effective cuts of 30-40% by permanently eliminating enough programs to achieve that. We are also being told to turn over 15-20% of our bookstore revenues (used to run the store and produce publications) and an equal amount of funds we collect from contracts and grants to pay for the cost of carrying out those operations. We are still assessing the extent and impacts of these two fund transfers.
We have already taken about 30% in cuts in the past 15 months. However, our infrastructure costs have not been reduced (rent, phones, accountants, insurance, etc).
As a result, this next round of cuts may necessitate reduction of our geoscience operations by 80% or so.