Indiana is cutting another 2% from the state university budgets to get through a continued economic slump.
According to State Budget Director Brian Bailey, universities will receive the extra 2%, about $27.5 million, only if tax revenue meets projections for the majority of the year after having fallen between 2013 and 2014, reports Jacob Rund for The Courier-Journal.
“We are concerned that fiscal year 2014 did not exceed prior year collections,” Bailey said.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Luke Kenley said that lawmakers have struck a deal with universities – if tuition increases are kept low an appropriate amount of funding will be included in the state’s budget.
“The fact that the state may be cutting back here, it puts pressure on them to just go out and make these other decisions which would have negative consequences – for example, tuition increases,” he says.
Indiana’s Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers took the stand before a US Senate committee last week, stressing the importance of the state’s funding for state colleges.
“It’s important to pay for what you value,” she said. “In Indiana, we value more degrees, more students graduating on time, more at-risk students graduating, more high-impact degrees.”
According to Lubber, costs associated with higher education are rising, as students are taking longer to complete their degrees. She suggested raising the full course load from 12 credits to 15 credits, having federal assistance pay upon course completion, and allowing federal aid to apply to summer courses to allow students to catch up or work ahead of their graduation plan.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R – Tenn.) replied to Lubber by saying states do not want to spend less money, they simply do not have the budget.
According to Senator Tom Harkin, (D – Iowa) reducing the financial support of a state’s public school system has a direct effect on the risings costs associated with college completion.
After hearing of the failing tax collections, Governor Mike Pence cut various agencies and sold the state plane. Other agencies were told to plan on a 3% budget cut. The state’s K-12 education system did not receive this cut.
Tax collections for 2014 came in under what was attained in 2013, causing concern about maintaining the state’s budget reserve of $2 million.
“Why the governor believes it’s important, why we believe it’s important is that is helps preserve dollars to spend on state agencies and universities through a critical downturn in the economy,” Bailey says.
The budget cuts are the result of a lawsuit brought on by adoptive families who are arguing the state did not give them the payments they deserved, cutting almost $240 million from the Department of Child Services, and therefore not given to them. Pence agreed to pay the families their subsidies for 2015 this week.
The lawsuit is still pending.