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.