May 28, 2024

Regents set budget priorities


A 4.5 percent tuition increase was approved by the State Board of Regents, as well as the Higher Education’s budget request for 2004-2005 on October 31. The requests, which will be forwarded to the governor and the legislature, include funding for nine public colleges and universities. (The budget request for the tenth institution, UCAT, is forwarded directly by their Board of Trustees.)
“In making this recommendation, we have carefully prioritized among many legitimate needs,” stated Regents Chair Nolan E. Karras. “At the top of our list is employee compensation, which would be the first salary increase in three years, and funding of increased health benefit and retirement costs. Second, we are asking for funding of one-fourth of the new students who have been enrolled during the past three years for which we have not received state funding. And third, we are asking for help covering the operational and maintenance costs of new buildings previously approved by the Legislature, and on-going utility costs.”
The fact that the Regents are only asking that one-fourth of the unfunded growth be covered this year is recognition of the budget realities facing the State. “We recognize that while the economy is turning, it is turning slowly and there will not be a significant amount of new money available for the Legislature to allocate,” commented Chair Karras.
To fund these top three priorities, the Regents are requesting an increase in state tax funds of $43,911,700, which represents a 7.8% increase. In addition, the Regents are submitting a list of other “on-going needs” which total $45 million, including funding the remainder of the unfunded new students enrolled over the past three years. Also included in the “on-going needs” is money for the first phase of a “Nursing Initiative” to make it possible to graduate more nurses to begin meeting the State’s nursing shortage, as well as additional funding of the Engineering Initiative, funds for libraries, and to increase student financial aid (among other things).
To fund its portion of the budget request, Regents approved a 4.5% tuition increase, of which 0.5% will be dedicated to need-based student financial aid. An additional or “Second-Tier” tuition increase, which may vary among institutions, will be approved later, after college and university Presidents have an opportunity to consult with their students and conduct public hearings on their campuses.