ATLANTA — University System of Georgia faculty and staff are facing potential furlough days to help offset the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The system’s Board of Regents voted Thursday to authorize either four or eight furlough days for most employees at all 26 of Georgia’s public colleges and universities, depending on their salary level. Employees earning salaries of $99,000 a year or above would take 16 furlough days, equivalent to a 6.2% pay cut.

System Chancellor Steve Wrigley and all university and college presidents would take 26 furlough days, equivalent to a salary reduction of 10%.

The furlough days are part of a plan to comply with 14% across-the-board state agency spending cuts Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget office and the heads of the Georgia House and Senate appropriations committee ordered last week.

For the university system, that represents a $361 million budget reduction in fiscal 2021, which starts July 1, on top of $350 million in losses the system suffered during the spring semester when the COVID-19 outbreak prompted the shutdown of all system campuses and the schools switched to online instruction, system Chancellor Steve Wrigley told the regents Thursday.

Wrigley said the university system has worked during the last three years to stream administrative costs, an effort that will result in savings of $100 million. A five-year initiative to tighten up on the system’s academic offerings has resulted in the termination of about 700 degree programs, he said.

“We’ve been making efforts to be more efficient and streamline,” he said. “But this is an unprecedented situation.”

State agencies have until May 20 to submit plans for how they will cut 14% from their fiscal ’21 budgets.

Wrigley said no firm decisions will be made on furloughs and other spending reductions until the General Assembly adopts a state budget for next year, which likely won’t happen until June.

“Employees of the University System of Georgia and our 26 colleges and universities continue to show resilience and dedication despite facing uncertainty and unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Wrigley said. “I deeply appreciate the contributions of our employees impacted by these measures.”

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