JFAC sets budget — CEC, second year law school approved by JFAC

BOISE — A second-year law school program in Boise and a 2 percent salary increase were granted to the University of Idaho following the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee meeting Thursday.

Other state budget allocations for Idaho’s four-year colleges and universities were set Thursday by JFAC — the legislature’s budget-writers — to offer a 7 percent increase in total funds for higher education in Idaho.

The allocation is a bit higher than Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s original 6.4 percent increase recommendation.

Now that motions have been passed for the post-secondary education, JFAC co-chair Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said budget-writers are on track to complete the state’s 2015 fiscal year budget by Friday, their target date.

“We’re in the final two days — we hope — of setting budgets,” Cameron said Thursday. “We’ll have a few (other budget items) come up, but we’re going to push to get through this agenda, so we can push through tomorrow’s agenda.”

The original motion to include a 2 percent salary increase — with 1 percent instated as a permanent raise and the other 1 percent as a one-time bonus for employees — as supplied by  $3.7 million in general funds and $2.7 million from other state funding sources, passed by an 18-1 vote in JFAC.

The given budget also includes allotted funds to add second-year capabilities to the UI Law School in Boise, which currently only has the capacity for third-year students — much like Otter’s executive recommendation.

“By adding instructors in targeted areas of study, we can help break up the logjam in our universities’ upper-division classes, so students can keep progressing toward their degrees,” Otter said. “And in response to growing demand … (I recommend) that we expand Dr. Chuck Staben’s law school program here in Boise to a second year.”

Deputy Division Manager Paul Headlee presented the primary post-secondary education budgets to JFAC and said the budgets received for universities and colleges is broken down into three primary groups: 50 percent is dedicated to general funds and expense allotments, 47 percent gained from tuition and fees and 3 percent gained from endowment funds.

Reps. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, and Phylis King, D-Boise, crafted their own version of the post-secondary budget and proposed an alternative motion. The alternative motion included $5 million to be dedicated to achieving the State Board of Education’s “60 percent goal,” — in which the board hopes to see 60 percent of all Idahoans with a professional or technical degree by the year 2020.

“We would like to see that money be used to help universities and colleges work with the (SBOE) to get the tools needed to recruit and retain students in our public universities and move them through in a timely fashion,” Ringo said of the alternative motion.

Ringo and King’s alternative budget plan failed by a 2-17 vote.

UI will also receive a portion of $1 million in funding for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies — an amount to be shared with Boise State University and Idaho State University.

Chloe Rambo can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu and on Twitter @CRchloerambo


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