For Immediate Release
A Joint Regent Release: State university budget cuts -- enough is
The state of Iowa is in a budget crisis and we agree that everyone needs to pitch in. The state's three public universities have done their part -- and more. We are being asked to shoulder a disproportionate share of the states burden. It's time to stop cutting the regent universities -- it harms public higher education and it harms the state.
During the current year, fiscal year (FY) 2002, the state has reduced its support for the regent universities and special schools by $82 million thats equivalent to cutting the entire annual appropriation for the University of Northern Iowa.
Further cuts will unquestionably compromise the quality of our educational programs. However, the proposal for FY 2003 is to cut an additional $24.7 million from our operations and $8 million from incremental salary obligations. Our state universities cannot continue to endure cuts in state support and maintain first-class educational programs and statewide public services.
Iowa needs to support its state universities. Despite this years reductions, we are currently educating more than 70,000 students and serving more than 500,000 Iowa citizens. We are struggling to provide quality education with fewer and fewer state resources as our student enrollments hit record levels.
How have we handled the budget cuts this year? We tried to protect our educational programs from damage by taking difficult, but decisive actions which include:
Although our universities are successful in raising funds from other sources, many of these funds cannot be used for basic educational operations. That's why state appropriations are vital.
The universities are not alone in facing the challenges of public higher education. Students and their families are being forced to take on a significant additional burden. During the last 20 years, the students' share of higher education costs has nearly doubled, while the state's share has decreased by 25 percent.
Iowans know that higher education is the proven pathway to greater economic prosperity, not only for the individual, but also for our state. Our public universities are powerful engines of economic growth. Studies show that every state tax dollar invested in public universities has a considerable impact on the state's economy in terms of jobs, private sector spending and increased tax receipts.
The benefits of quality universities are clear. Based on recent national census data, those who complete four-year college or university degrees earn, on average, $19,000 per year more than those with only a high school diploma. Iowa's future prosperity depends on improving personal income for its citizens.
If approved, the additional cuts will harm public higher education, and in turn, hinder the state's ability to grow and prosper. That is why we urge the Governor and the General Assembly to work together for a better budget alternative that maintains Iowas historic commitment to quality, accessible higher education. We stand ready to do our part.
Owen J. Newlin, president, Board of Regents