At our last meeting, the Board discussed the actions of the House Appropriations Committee and adopted a position paper that we’ve shared with our stakeholders during the past few weeks. As we said earlier, we appreciate the House’s support of increases for student aid, campus security, and IT investments, but we do have concerns about other parts of the bill.
As we have been communicating with people across the state and with legislators, we know that our message is being heard and considered, and we greatly appreciate that. We are well aware of the reduced revenue forecast and know that our legislators face some tough decisions. We will certainly do our part and thank them for their efforts. As they say, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” In this case, that means it ain’t over until the end of the Legislative Session, somewhere near the end of next month.
Here are the main points of the Board’s position:
- Support the higher education funding formula as introduced last session, so that it can work as designed for student success. The Board’s 2015-2020 strategic plan is based on continuation of the formula.
- Use the inflation factor within the formula to fund compensation increases for NDUS employees and utility cost increases in a similar fashion to other state entities.
- At a minimum, fund the capital projects the Board has identified as high-priority flood, life/safety issues and critical deferred maintenance needs. In addition, fund extraordinary repairs increases that will minimize additional deferred maintenance and authorize completion of non-state-funded projects.
- Eliminate a proposal to create a duplicative system for workforce education.
- Ensure continued governance and management flexibility for the Board and the university system, especially concerning current budget practices, authority over locally funded capital projects and employee approval, and the authority to set tuition and fees, as has been within the Board’s purview for most of the past 100 years.
We tabled a discussion on four sections of HB 1003 that deal with attorneys and auditors at the system office because we needed more information. We’ll discuss that again at this month’s meeting (see related story).
The Board’s goal is to ensure the best student outcomes based on a well-planned strategy, using a responsible budget. As we’ve visited with people, they understand and support that goal. I’m optimistic that when the Legislative Session winds down, our students will come out winners in the race to fulfill their potential and the needs of our state.