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31 Days, 31 Ways: UT Southwestern Loses $31M in State Funding

DAY 10 of our month-long series on the effects of new state laws and budget cuts: Losing $31 million in state aid leads UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas to lay off more than 100 employees and eliminate 250 vacant positions.

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31 Days 31 Ways

Throughout the month of August, The Texas Tribune is featuring 31 ways Texans' lives will change come Sept. 1, the date most bills passed by the Legislature — including the dramatically reduced budget — take effect. Check out our story calendar here

Day 10: Losing $31 million in state aid leads the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas to lay off more than 100 employees and eliminate 250 vacant positions.

For Dallas' UT Southwestern Medical Center, the massive state budget cuts from the 2011 legislative session amounted to a double-whammy of reductions in both Medicaid dollars and higher education funding. 

Lawmakers promised this year to close the state's mutlibillion-dollar budget hole by tightening belts instead of asking taxpayers to ante up. Nearly every state agency took a hit.

In a June 29 letter to the hospital's community, UT Southwestern president Daniel K. Podolsky announced the campus would lose 22 percent of its state funding, about $31 million per year. It may not seem like much given the center's annual operating budget of $1.5 billion. But a significant amount of its funding is in grants earmarked for specific purposes, which makes it hard to recoup the losses in state money with other funds.

To preserve "the overall strength of our academic programs," Podolsky announced UT Southwestern would cut budgets across the entire campus, even programs that do not receive state support.  UT Southwestern declined comment but pointed us to the letter for how the school will deal with the cuts.

Because personnel costs are the bulk of its expenses, Podolsky said about 350 staff positions would be eliminated, including 250 positions that were already vacant. So far, 105 staff members have been laid off.

"We deeply regret the need for any of these reductions, and our Office of Human Resources is actively working with all affected employees to help them find other positions," Podolsky said.

Despite the painful cuts, Podolsky ended his letter by reassuring readers that plans are continuing for a new university hospital, because no state funds are involved in that project.

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Economy Health care State government 82nd Legislative Session Budget Federal health reform Medicaid Texas Legislature