Under the budget proposed by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa public universities would see a $ 15 million increase in budget – not in line with the regents’ request for an additional $ 26 million.
Ryan Adams for the Daily Iowan
The three regent-ruled universities in Iowa would be under the Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed a $ 15 million increase in the state budget – an underfunding of inquiries from university leaders after lawmakers cut public universities in Iowa last year.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is proposing a $ 15 million funding boost for the State Board of Regents, which governs the state’s three public universities and will be made available at its own discretion for fiscal 2022. Their proposal, which would have to be proposed and adopted by the legislature during the session, falls short of the regents’ proposal. The regents asked State legislature to restore a $ 8 million cut In addition to a general increase in the fund of $ 18 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021.
The funding recommendation will not be split between the three universities and will be used as the board of directors deems appropriate, Iowa Department of Management employee Joel Lunde wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan. Reynolds also recommends increasing fiscal 2023 by $ 15 million, which in turn underfunds the regents’ claims over the past three years.
The two main sources of funding for public universities are government funds, which are decided each year by the Des Moines legislature, and income from tuition fees. Over the past two decades, tuition fees have increased as government funding has stayed the same or has been cut by lawmakers.
Regent executive director Mark Braun said in a statement emailed that the regents “appreciate Governor Reynolds’ continued support for the Regent Universities of Iowa.”
In her state of the state speech on Tuesday, Reynolds briefly mentioned higher education, but mostly focused on promoting Future Ready Iowa, a program that connects people with professional training and aims to reach 70 percent of the state that is beyond the High school also has education and training through 2025.
“We have amazing universities, colleges, and community colleges in this state. But not all skills are learned in a classroom. On-the-job training and retraining are some of the most valuable ways to grow our workforce and raise wages in Iowan, ”she said.
Braun went on to say that the regents “would continue to be good stewards of money our universities received”.
“We will continue to campaign for the amount of funding needed to continue providing the accessible, world-class education our students deserve, ”said Braun.
Iowa public universities will regularly increase their tuition fees again in the fall of 2021 after the regents freeze tuition fees for three semesters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Regent President Mike Richards told the regents in November. The five-year tuition increase model adopted in 2019 is an attempt to provide students and families with predictability when it comes to tuition increases.
Bruce Harreld, president of the University of Iowa, said in a meeting with philanthropists from Iowa City in November that he is calling on regents to return to the tuition fee model to offset the trend of divestment in higher education and expected declines in institution enrollment in the whole country.
During the meeting, he noted that despite doubling the state budget over the past two decades and increasing the consumer price index by more than 60 percent, government support for higher education has declined by a net $ 8 million.
“In a world where government funding continues to decline, there is very little left to think about,” said Harreld. “Aside from recruiting more students, increasing market share, adding dormitories and classrooms, increasing tuition fees, and saying ‘let’s go’ is just the opposite of what we have to do.”
Democratic lawmakers in Johnson County interviewed by the OF prior to Reynolds’ address, he expressed disappointment with the cuts to the regent’s budget at the end of the legislature.
Joe Bolkcom, Senator from Iowa, D-Iowa City, said university directors and the board of regents need to be more active with statehouse staff in order to improve relationships with lawmakers and raise funds for those from Rulers set up governed institutions.
“These are the people who are going to make these decisions,” Bolkcom said, referring to lawmakers. “You have to set up these meetings and talk to people. I would involve the Board of Regents on this, ”said Bolkcom. “The Board of Regents needs to be much more aggressive in advocating government funding.”
He cited the $ 8 million budget cut for the regents for fiscal year 2021 after the dollars were used as evidence that higher education is not a priority for lawmakers in power.
“We made an $ 8 million budget cut in the middle of the night for no apparent reason,” said Bolkcom. “I don’t know why they don’t like them, but the universities have been cut and cut and cut and we have to find a way to just stop this.”
Iowa ended fiscal 2020 in June with a budget surplus of $ 305 million and $ 770 million in funds for rainy days. In its fiscal 2021 budget, Iowa lawmakers kept many programs updated in anticipation of COVID-19 straining the state budget. Lawmakers raised funds in a number of areas, such as a $ 100 million increase in K-12 funding and a $ 32 million increase in Medicaid. In addition to the regents, the legislature has cut the budget of the foreign minister and the judiciary.
Iowa City Rep. Christina Bohannan, professor of UI law and former faculty senate president, cited regent universities as economic drivers to invest in.
“First, the better educated the population, the more people start successful businesses and do interesting research – this is a driver of economic growth,” said Bohannon. “I mean, we’re seeing this with the Entrepreneurial Center, some of the agricultural research in Iowa State.”
The Regent Universities have taken some steps to cut their budgets.
In April, the State Board of Regents set up a committee to review and determine cost effectiveness in the regent system. In December 2019, the regents signed a public-private partnership for a private company to manage its utility system. Reynolds mentioned her desire for more public-private partnerships during her state of the state and advocated more partnership between public-private entities to address affordable housing.