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UNC President Erskine Bowles is going to ask the legislature to increase the UNC System’s budget 11%. But Bowles has done something unusual. He’s backed his request by cutting what amounts to $440 million in other university spending. For example, he’s cut his own staff 10%. It’s hard to recall anyone else, anywhere else, in government doing that.

Bowles cuts give his request for a budget increase credibility. He’s asking for more money, but he’s also saying he’s going to spend the money he has more wisely. Of course, he still has to work his way through the political labyrinth of the legislature and the politicians may maul his plans. But he’s started with a proposal that should have a little appeal to even the most tight-fisted Senators and Representatives.

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