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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - 11:56am

MCG Meeting Emotional

At the state capitol, lawmakers on Wednesday are once again taking up the budget for the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents.

It's the first hearing since university presidents on Monday recommended thousands of layoffs, elimination of degree programs and a substantial drop in student enrollment to meet an additional $300 million in cuts for next fiscal year, on top of the $365 million proposed by Governor Sonny Perdue.

Outside of the Gold Dome, the news of the possible budget cuts hit hard. In meetings at campuses across the state, students, faculty and staff expressed fear and anger.

In a town hall meeting at the Medical College of Georgia on Tuesday, Randy Bogan said he didn't know what he would do if he couldn't finish his respiratory therapy degree.

"We have made great sacrifices, including my wife, that I might be here...and we had great plans for the future," said Bogan, who left his job as a lab technician recently to pursue his degree. "My wife doesn't even know about this and I've been sitting back there thinking, 'How am I going to go home and tell this to my wife that there's a possibility that I might not graduate from here and I've got to go somewhere else and start all over again?"

MCG officials repeatedly told people in the crowded auditorium that the proposed budget reductions were just "scenarios," and that they won't happen if the legislature can find another way to plug the shortfall. They also said they hope officials will see the "human cost" of what can happen if the additional cuts are made.