Boise State responds to some unanswered budget questions

One day after a tense Statehouse hearing, Boise State University has provided some answers to a bevy of budget questions.

On Wednesday evening, Boise State sent emails to members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, addressing questions from a public hearing Tuesday. During this hearing, President Marlene Tromp provided no budget specifics — about the use of student fee money, campus speakers and a new diversity hire, among other items.

Legislative budget-writers grilled Boise State University President Marlene Tromp during a hearing Tuesday morning. Darren Svan/Idaho EdNews

Here are some highlights from the Boise State email, which the university sent to Idaho Education News Thursday.

Student fees. Boise State broke down how it is spending $4.6 million in new fees.

  • Public works and small capital projects: $1.65 million. The email doesn’t elaborate on these projects.
  • Technology, including IT salaries, computer labs and online testing: $1.1 million.
  • Athletics and Title IX compliance: $1.1 million.
  • Student mental health services: $757,000. This increase comes to $47 per semester, and was “requested by students,” Boise State said in its email.
  • Bronco Engage, career planning software: $35,000.

Boise State’s email to legislators contains a factual error. The university said the student fee increase comes to $304 per semester. The $304 increase is annual.

Boise State spokesman Mike Sharp confirmed the error late Thursday afternoon, in a text to Idaho EdNews.

Money from reserves. The 2022 Legislature gave Boise State $4 million from the state’s higher education rainy-day fund.

Boise State is spending $3.7 million on “new data-driven electronic academic advising infrastructure.” The rest is going for academic advising support and open-source learning materials.

Replacement items. Gov. Brad Little has recommended $2.2 million for vehicles and other replacement items, but Boise State had requested more than $4 million.

Replacement servers and spectrometers account for more than half of the $4 million request. Boise State requested about $167,000 for vehicles.

Risk management. Little’s budget requests an increase of slightly more than $1 million for risk management.

The Division of Financial Management, Little’s budget arm, sets the amounts for risk management, Boise State said in its email.

Vice provost for inclusion and belonging. The university has set a salary range of $150,000 to $180,000 for this new position, which it says is geared toward helping students adjust to campus life. “The university expects the position to be filled at approximately $155,000,” Boise State said in its email.

The vice provost’s position was a focal point in Tuesday’s hearing — and part of a larger discussion about diversity, equity and inclusion programs on campus.

Speaker fees. On Tuesday, Tromp promised Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, a spreadsheet outlining speaker fees. The email lists a series of university speakers’ events funded by donors, endowments and grants, and spotlighted one recent event.

“The MLK Living Legacy annual speaker, including the most recent speaker, Ibram Kendi, is student-run, student-led and student-funded. Private donors have also contributed to this event.”

Boise State Public Radio. The state appropriates $395,000 to BSPR, including $67,000 for student salaries. The balance of the $6 million budget comes from grants and gifts.

The Boise State response appears incomplete, leaving unanswered questions on topics such as speaker fees, JFAC’s House co-chair said late Thursday afternoon.

“We look forward to receiving the remaining answers,” said Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls.

 

Kevin Richert

About 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 KIVI 6 On Your Side; "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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