The long fight between the state’s universities over “funding equity” – meaning the University of Idaho was seen as getting more state money comparatively when other colleges were growing faster in student populations – ended this morning. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved a budget for universities for next year that includes a $3.9 million equity payment – $2.2 million of that goes to BSU, and $1.7 million to ISU. As a result, all three university presidents and the state Board of Education are signing an agreement saying that’s it, the equity fight is over. Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, credited UI President Tim White with prompting the resolution, which Werk called “a real step forward for our college and university system. It’s a banner day.”
The fact that the state actually has money this year to budget – unlike recent tight budget years – makes this solution far more palatable than the last attempt at addressing equity, when the state Board of Education last year took $196,800 away from the University of Idaho and gave it to BSU, ISU and LCSC. UI, which was struggling with its own budget cuts at the time, didn’t appreciate that.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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