Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's requested cuts for next budget year would reduce funding for the state's colleges and universities by almost $35 million, according to the Higher Education Policy Commission.
That figure reflects the impact on four-year institutions, community and technical colleges and other programs that fall under the commission's parameters, commission spokeswoman Ashley Schumaker said.
Tomblin recently called for some state agencies to trim 7.5 percent from the budgets they will proposed for the state fiscal year that starts next July 1. The cuts would save the state $85 million as the administration anticipates a $390 million budget gap for next fiscal year.
Some programs, including the state school aid formula for elementary and secondary schools, are exempt. On Friday, the policy commission officially asked Tomblin to exempt higher education as well, Schumaker said.
The request compliments Tomblin for his "financially responsible leadership" and thanks him for his commitment to students but states that the cuts would hinder the ability of institutions to "fulfill their academic and service missions."
"The proposed reduction will also increase the burden of student loans for current and future students, ultimately negatively impacting the accessibility and affordability of higher education for all West Virginians," the request states.
Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said the governor received the letter Friday.
"The state is operating on a budget surplus, and it remains strong because Gov. Tomblin continues to make fiscal responsibility a priority," Goodwin wrote in an email. "We are asking agencies to do more with less as we prepare for the future."
The cuts present a "significant budget challenge" for Marshall University, in the view of its president, Stephen Kopp.
He said the 7.5 percent reduction would mean $5.1 million for Marshall and its School of Medicine, according to a statement to faculty and staff posted on the university's website Monday.
The statement also indicated there might be mid-year budget cuts.