Otter: State cannot cover $9 million for ‘equity’

The state does not have the money to erase several years of university funding inequity in one year, a spokesman for Gov. Butch Otter said Monday evening.

In his budget presentation Monday, Boise State University President Bob Kustra appealed to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee to find the “equity” money, intended to cover enrollment increases. The State Board of Education requested equity funding, including $4.96 million for BSU, but Otter did not include it in his budget proposal.

 “As we have indicated in other areas of the budget, as the economy continues to recover, we will continue to address this equity issue,” Otter spokesman Jon Hanian said. “But it was not possible to take a $9 million impact to the rest of the budget to address this one issue all at once this year.”

The State Board equity funding proposal comes to $9.49 million, including $1.63 million for the University of Idaho and $2.90 million for Idaho State University. It’s designed to cover equity issues dating back to 2008.

Otter’s budget proposal does include equity funding — or enrollment workload adjustment, or EWA — for 2014. But BSU actually would lose $88,000 under this plan. EWA is calculated on a three-year enrollment average, and incorporates enrollment BSU lost in 2011 with the advent of the College of Western Idaho.

Kustra said BSU would use the equity funding to beef up undergraduate course offerings. He says he’s concerned undergrads hit a scheduling “bottleneck” as they move from introductory classes to coursework in their majors.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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