Hike funding

Iowa universities seek $34 million increase in state funding, cite inflation

“There is great concern about salary costs”

The exterior of the Iowa State Capitol building is visible in Des Moines. (The Gazette)

Marking its largest state-requested funding increase in nearly a decade, Iowa’s Board of Regents is seeking $34.7 million more in education appropriations from the Legislature for the next fiscal year – partly because of soaring inflation.

“These inflation rates are close to the highest rates recorded in the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” according to the council’s proposals. request for credits for the 2024 financial year, which the regents will consider next week.

“There is great concern about wage costs in a market heavily influenced by inflation, competition for quality talent and labor shortages.”

The board’s proposed appropriation request includes a $32 million increase in general education funding for its three public universities — plus an additional $2.7 million for its specialty schools and special-purpose units, such as the new collaboration with the community colleges of the University of Northern Iowa.

If lawmakers grant the council’s request, they would increase the regents’ total appropriations for education from $575.9 million this year to $610.5 million next year, according to council documents released Tuesday. .

The total increase requested by the council is the highest level in nine years, and the regent staff justified the current request by citing a 9% increase in the consumer price index from June 2021 to June 2022. The annualized rate of change in June 2022, as requested by the Board of Directors, was 17 percent.

“Costs of almost all services provided and goods purchased by regent universities are increasing,” according to the council. “Examples include computer hardware and software, food, utilities, fuel, collectively-bargained wages and personnel costs.”

How has the legislature responded to past funding proposals?

If approved, the increase would come after years of reduced, leveled or lower funding than requested for the Regents – who collectively govern the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and UNI.

While last year the council asked the Legislature for an additional $22.1 million for the current budget year, lawmakers in May finalized a budget increasing funding for regents by $6.2 million. dollars for the fiscal year that began July 1 — of which $5.5 million was for general college. credits.

This translated into an increase of 1.1% for each of the three universities:

  • $2.4 million for unemployment insurance
  • $1.9 million for the UIS
  • $1.1 million for UNI.

The previous year, lawmakers had denied the board any increase in general education funding, rejecting its request for an additional $26 million in full. That year’s request came after the state in 2020 cut Regent’s appropriations by $8 million in response to the pandemic.

Looking back more than 40 years, when tuition in 1981 accounted for 21% of general university education funding and credits for 77%, the near reverse is true today. For the current budget year, credits represent 31% of general education funding and tuition fees 64%.

The board raised tuition again this fall by 4.25% for most students on its campuses.

The council’s strategic plan, according to its request, “calls for adequate support of the governing institutions from all sources.”

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.

Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.

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