LISTEN: In an interview with GPB's Orlando Montoya, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia says the additional state budget decrease of $66 million will hurt USG institutions, especially smaller ones.

Sonny Perdue in the U.S. Capitol.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue

Credit: Susan Walsh, AP

The University System of Georgia is denouncing the $66 million in budget cuts that state lawmakers approved for the system on Wednesday.

The cuts will hit each of the system’s 26 public colleges and universities differently, ranging from a nearly $12 million cut for the University of Georgia to a $200,000 cut for Atlanta Metropolitan State College.

University System Chancellor Sonny Perdue said the cuts were “disappointing,” given the state’s strong financial footing, which he said is due in part to a strong higher education system.

“While I was governor, we didn’t have money but we tried to spare the university system as much as possible, relative to other agencies,” Perdue said. “And the sad part is that we’ve always invested in higher education in Georgia.”

Perdue was Georgia governor from 2003 through 2011.

State senators said the system could use reserves to shore up funding, but Perdue pointed out shortcomings in that approach.

Perdue said 82% of those reserves are held by the system’s six largest institutions, meaning the cuts would hit smaller schools the hardest.

“We were already making plans for less money as it was and realigning people, programs, eliminating unfilled positions and those kind of things,” he said. “In fact, in some institutions, it was already affecting people who were employed as well.  So, we’ve got to go back to the drawing board now.”

It’s not clear how the cuts will impact individual institutions, programs and staff members. But close to 80% of the system’s teaching costs are personnel, according to USG.