‘The best budget we can hope for?’ Higher ed budget reactions

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to cut $2.1 million from the 2021-22 higher education budget — cuts designed to curb social justice programs at the state’s four-year public institutions.

The budget would earmark $313.1 million of state tax dollars for higher education. Gov. Brad Little requested $315.2 million.

Here are thumbnail reactions to the budget proposal:

  • “While I certainly would have preferred the governor’s recommended budget for our college and universities, I also understand this may be the best budget we can hope for on this 107th day of the legislation session,” said State Board of Education Executive Director Matt Freeman. “Nevertheless, it should not go unnoticed that the board and its institutions remain steadfast in our commitment to access and affordability for students. … Resident undergraduate students will see no increase in tuition for the second consecutive year.”
  • “While we supported the governor’s recommendation and think that was the right level of state support for our colleges and universities, the State Board and the institutions have been kept informed about this updated budget proposal,” said Greg Wilson, Little’s senior policy adviser for education. “With this level of state support for next year and the addition of federal funds, the State Board will be able to work to keep tuition flat for this coming year, doubling down on their efforts on affordability and access for Idaho students.”
  • Boise State University, which stands to lose $1.5 million, declined comment until next year’s budget is set.
  • “We are watching and waiting to see what happens with this new bill,” said Jodi Walker, spokeswoman at the University of Idaho, which would sustain a $500,000 cut.
  • Lewis-Clark State College President Cynthia Pemberton noted that her college is a net winner in the new JFAC budget, in the sum of $400,000. “Lewis-Clark State College is very grateful to be considered for this much needed support as it will help us cover the cost of a (staff pay) increase as we freeze in-state tuition for the second consecutive year.”

Idaho Education News has also requested comment from Idaho State University, which is facing a $500,000 cut, and the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a libertarian-leaning group which has vocally decried social justice and diversity initiatives on state campuses.

Check back for updates.

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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