Eye On Boise

The 'stem the bleeding' package

Mike Rush, director of the Office of the State Board of Education, says rather than “stimulus package,” he likes to refer to the federal bill as “the stem-the-bleeding package.” He told JFAC this morning, “We think it will act much like a Band-Aid does – in other words, stop the bleeding and protect the wound” so healing can occur. Higher education in Idaho will receive $35.4 million the need to raise tuition, and to modernize, renovate or repair facilities. “We are proposing that 62 percent of that be spent in the year 2010, 38 percent in 2011,” Rush said. “We are proposing using the greatest percentage of the funding the first year, because that’s where the fixes are the hardest to come by.”

The state board is proposing to distribute the money to colleges and universities based on the budget cuts they’ve suffered, Rush said. “That puts just over $30 million at the colleges and universities, $3.2 million at community colleges and $1.5 million at the technical colleges.” In addition to that pot of money, Idaho will receive a half-million dollars in additional work-study funds by April 1, and another $42 million in increased Pell grants for needy students.

Rush said, “It is critically important not to waste a good crisis.” Budget cuts force cuts in whatever can be cut quickly, he said. But the stimulus money will ease the state’s higher ed system through while it thinks more carefully and strategically about how best to make cuts for the long term, he said. “We cannot afford to make hasty decisions that cut our capacity at the very time that people are coming into the system and need training.”  JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell told Rush, “We would like very much to be able to put this in your budget sometime before May Day, I think.” Rush responded, “Me and you both.”




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Eye On Boise

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