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Office of Governmental Relations

2011 Legislative Updates

2011 Legislative Updates

House passes UNI Budget

April 8, 2011

The Iowa House of Representatives has passed the UNI budget for next year. The budget that was passed earlier in the week cuts UNI an additional 9 percent which is in excess of $7 million.

These further budget cuts are in addition to the the roughly 20 percent budget cut that UNI has experienced over the past two years totaling more than $20 million.

The budget now moves on to the Senate where hopefully some of the budget reductions will be restored. Please contact your local legislators and tell them to support UNI!

Baker/Bartlett Project

March 14, 2011

UNI's top building request has taken a major step forward today. The project, the demolition of Baker Hall and the renovation of Bartlett Hall, was approved by the House Appropriations Committee today. The project will be funded over three years and will be a major improvement to UNI's campus.

The next step in the process will be a full House debate which will be scheduled within the next few weeks.

Senate targets are released

March 9, 2011

The Senate today released their targets for the education appropriations budget bill. Of the targets that were released, UNI's budget is being held harmless with Fiscal Year 2011.

This is welcomed news. UNI has been cut by over $20 million over the past two years and it is time to stop the cuts. The current budget proposal in the House of Representatives cuts UNI by an additional nine percent.

Please contact your local legislators and tell them to support the Senate's budget proposal and Stop the Cuts!

House Appropriations Committee

March 8, 2011

The Iowa House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted to approve the education appropriations budget bill from the full committee today. The bill includes an additional nine percent budget cut for UNI which is on top of the nearly 23 percent budget cut UNI has realized since Fiscal Year 2009.

The next step in the process will be a full House debate which will be scheduled within the next few weeks.

Budget Situation – Stop the Cuts!

February 21, 2011

The majority party in the Iowa House of Representatives has released its budget targets, or spending limits, for the next fiscal year. The Education Appropriation Subcommittee was given a target that's $24 million less than Gov. Branstad’s proposal for all of education. Simply put, the House targets cut even deeper than the governor’s proposed 7.7 percent reduction to the University of Northern Iowa.

Given the fact that the public universities make up the majority of the appropriation expenditures for the committee, we expect our cuts will be the most severe. With the budget targets that were released last week, and based on previous appropriation trends, UNI’s proposed budget cut is approximately $8.3 million. Adding this cut to the already devastating budget cuts of the previous two and a half years, UNI’s state appropriation will have been reduced by 29 percent, or almost $30 million. That's the equivalent of losing state support for 3,900 undergraduate students.

From another perspective, Iowa’s public universities are facing an aggregate reduction of state appropriations of more than $167 million. That equates to cutting out two UNI’s or one Iowa State University from the budget books.

No other state agency or branch of government is experiencing this sort of massive disinvestment. No other state agency is more critical in job creation, personal income growth, and the production of a highly qualified workforce that Iowa companies depend on than UNI and our sister institutions. As a result of these budget cuts, UNI can anticipate an increase in class sizes, reductions in course and program offerings, and the loss of faculty and staff positions.

From a national perspective, only two states, Oregon and Arizona, have cut public higher education more in the past two years than Iowa. If the budget cuts become a reality, UNI will experience funding levels not seen since the early 1990s.

In these difficult economic times, preserving higher education is essential. The state must ensure UNI's high-quality education for current and future generations of students.

We need your help! Contact your local legislators by e-mail, calling or attending a local legislative forum. Tell them to support UNI's academic quality and Stop the Cuts! Our future depends on it.

Senate Switchboard: 515.281.3371
House Switchboard: 515.281.3221

UNI presents to Educaiton Appropriations Subcommittee

February 10, 2011

Acting president Gloria Gibson presented to the education appropriations subcommittee yesterday afternoon to discuss the impacts of the budget cuts of the last two years as well as reaction to Governor Branstad's proposed budget. Below is an article covering presentation.

University heads say more budget cuts will hurt quality of education

by O. Kay Henderson on February 10, 2011

The top administrators at Iowa, Iowa State and U-N-I say the quality of their institutions may suffer if the universities endure another year of deep reductions in state taxpayer support. Governor Branstad is calling for a six percent cut.

University of Iowa president Sally Mason heads an institution which has seen its budget cut by about 20 percent over the past two years and she told legislators yesterday cutting six percent deeper would be difficult.

“Now I’d like to sit here and claim, ‘Sure we can do this, no problem,’” Mason said. “If I did that, I think I would be fooling you and I would certainly be fooling myself.”

I-S-U president Gregory Geoffrey says that six percent cut would be on top of the $62-million that’s been cut from his university’s budget since the recession began.

“If Governor Branstad’s budget proposal were to be enacted, that cut would rise to $72 million,” Geoffrey says. “That’s a very, very large number.”

University leaders say they’ve streamlined administrative costs as much as possible, but class sizes are larger and there are fewer classes.

Board of Regents President David Miles says Iowa’s three public universities have taken harder budget hits than universities in other states.

“While the vast majority of states across the country had to reduce appropriations in this financial crisis, in (fiscal year) 2010 only five states in the country cut their appropriations to higher education more than Iowa did,” Miles says.

Gloria Gibson, the acting president of the University of Northern Iowa, says if Branstad’s six percent cut is enacted, U-N-I’s state funding would dip to the where it was in 1998.

“Even with a tuition increase and a modestly-predicted enrollment increase, when we add up new unavoidable expenses we anticipate starting the year with a multimillion dollar deficit,” she told legislators.

Representative Cecil Dolecheck, a Republican from Mount Ayr, is co-chair of the committee that will draft education spending plans and he says lawmakers may cut a little bit deeper in the university budgets than Branstad has proposed.

The Republican who heads the House Appropriations Committee wants the University of Iowa to sell a valuable painting and use the profits for scholarships. Jackson Pollack’s “Mural” — painted in 1943 and is considered one of the most famous paintings by a modern American artist. It is valued at $140-million and was given to the university in 1951.

President Allen's budget message

February 4, 2011

Over the past three weeks, the parameters of our budget situation have started to be defined. First, the Iowa House of Representatives passed a deappropriation bill, which if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, will have a profound effect on UNI. The bill would cut $10 million from the Regents institutions for the current fiscal year -- that equates to a $1.66 million cut for UNI. The bill also would cut another $15 million from the public universities for each of the next two fiscal years.

Last week, Gov. Branstad presented his budget proposal, which includes a $6.3 million budget reduction for UNI. See the governor's full budget

Governor Branstad's BudgetThis trend of disinvestment is troubling to say the least. Since July 1, 2008, UNI has seen no fewer than eight appropriation changes to our base budget, resulting in an appropriation reduction of $23 million (22.3 percent). In real dollars, state appropriations are now at the same level as fiscal 1997-98, and in constant dollars, the university is funded at the same level as fiscal 1987.

These budget cuts continue to have a more profound impact on UNI because we depend much more on state appropriations than our sister institutions, which have the benefit of a much greater percentage of non-resident students supplementing their budget. State appropriations and tuition are our two primary sources of revenue. The Iowa General Assembly will now take the governor's proposal and add it to the debate about the state's budget.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa met yesterday. A key point of discussion was tuition for next year. The Board Office is recommending a 5-percent increase in resident and non-resident tuition for UNI. Even with this tuition increase and a modest predicted enrollment increase, the additional revenue when contrasted against the governor's proposed budget reduction, creates more than a $2 million shortfall going into the new fiscal year.

We do not know what the final outcome will be with respect to the budget that will be passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. Even the tuition decision will not be known until the March board meeting.

Planning will begin immediately to develop ways to maintain the high-quality education provided by this institution, meet the needs of our students, and continue to work toward our strategic goals, while also balancing our budget. This will not be easy, but it must be done. Tough decisions will have to be made.

What can you do? Now more than ever, it's important for us to share the value this institution brings to the state—to tell UNI's story. And we have a very important story to tell. For example, more than 90 percent of our students come from Iowa; and 77 percent of those graduates either take their first job in Iowa or attend graduate school in Iowa. More than 60,000 UNI alumni live in Iowa. What could be more important to the economic welfare of Iowa than providing teachers, accountants, business leaders, scientists, researchers, graduate students who become lawyers, doctors and professors, and the myriad of other professional roles that our students fill?

Certainly, UNI is a significant contributor to the economic, social and cultural development of the state in several other ways. For example, UNI's Business and Community Services programs provide support to businesses in all 99 counties. UNI also produces creative and successful entrepreneurs. Our students create new and innovative products and start businesses that add to Iowa's economic wellbeing and stature.

Also, UNI is providing leadership to help Iowa regain its position as the state with the strongest pre-K through 12 system in the nation. An example of UNI's commitment and expertise in this area is the Iowa Math and Science Education Partnership (IMSEP), a collaborative effort with the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, is headquartered at UNI and is active in 88 counties. Additionally, the upcoming statewide Research and Development School, which is in its second year of a three-year transition plan and will be headquartered at UNI, will aid significantly in advancing Iowa's educational system.

We have much to be proud of and an important story to tell. I am encouraged and thankful for what we have accomplished here at UNI. As we make decisions in the weeks and months ahead we must do everything we can to maintain our outstanding academic quality, to ensure students progress to graduation, to make student financial aid accessible and available, and to keep our campus safe and secure. Together we will make the right decisions and continue to keep the University of Northern Iowa on the path to becoming an even greater university.