| 03.20.2018

JFAC approves 4.4 percent increase for higher education funding


The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved a budget plan March 7 that will give Idaho colleges and universities a 4.4-percent funding increase for FY 2014.
Idaho higher education will receive a total of $465.9 million for FY 2014 if approved by the full Idaho house, Senate and the governor in the coming weeks. It will add an additional $236.5 million, or 3.2 percent increase, to the general funds budget.
Paul Headlee, principal budget analyst for public schools and higher education, said the current FY 2013 appropriation is comprised of 51 percent general funds, 47 percent tuition and fees and 2 percent endowment funds.
“This appropriation comprises approximately one-third of the total operating budgets, both appropriated and non appropriated,” Headlee said. “Which includes non-appropriated federal financial aid dollars, grants, contracts, gifts and local fees.”
The approved motion will provide money for eight different facilities at three Idaho institutions. Boise State University will receive approximately $1.65 million for three different buildings on campus. Idaho State University will receive $562,000 for a new building in Meridian.
The University of Idaho will receive four new buildings if this budget is approved. The Idaho Water Center will receive $221,000, the Center for Fish Studies will have $55,400, a new combustion lab will receive $6,800 and the Pitkin office and classroom will get $12,800, as recommended by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.
Rep. Jeff Thompson of District 30 motioned for $585,500 one-time dedicated funds for replacement items at the universities, which was approved by JFAC.
“It gave all of the colleges more money for addressing their deferred maintenance on buildings, and this has always been a big burden for the University of Idaho because, since we’re the oldest most established university in the state, we do have more in the way of older buildings to maintain,” said Rep. Shirley Ringo of Moscow.
According to the Division of Financial Management, Otter does not recommend funding for a second year law school curriculum in Boise and the program will not get funding for FY 2014.
“This is Idaho’s public law school and there have been articles published, such as the one in the Chronicle of Higher Education, indicating that people going into the area of law are upset about the size loans that they’re finishing law school with,” Ringo said.
Ringo said the public law school offers a more affordable route for students to go and that it’s important to expand certain parts of the program in Boise, where it is readily accessible to the state government.
“I think the Dean (Donald L. Burnett Jr.) made a good point that we are having to import lawyers that are prepared somewhere else because we don’t have the capacity here in Idaho,” Ringo said. “So I think we shouldn’t see more lawyers that would be added, but more homegrown lawyers.”
Rep. Dean Cameron of District 27 said the UI College of Law needs to be considered for FY 2014.
“I know that we have a number of good programs and this is one of them that we need to be considering in the future,” Cameron said.
Ringo said with the increased funding, it’s up to the university to decide if they can lower the increase in tuition for the 2014-15 school year.
“The universities have to evaluate what money they have coming their way and based on what those needs turn out to dictate … it seems like tuition always ends up going up some,” Ringo said. “But I hope that it will turn out that because of some of those sources of money that came through that perhaps the increase won’t be as much.”
She said a goal Idaho needs to consider is making college available for as many people as possible.
“I think the news that we got not too long ago that Idaho is at the bottom of the states in median income shows us that if we want to have our families have the access to higher education we have to keep those costs down,” Ringo said.
She said as UI is the main research university in Idaho, it also needs to get more funding.
“When you have the responsibilities of funding research, that’s a much more expensive type of instruction,” Ringo said. “So we always have to argue for what is really fair for how the higher education money is distributed.”
Emily Johnson can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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