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Eye On Boise

Thu., March 6, 2014, 7:55 a.m.

Higher ed budget has 6.2% increase, matches governor’s recommendation

Legislative budget writers this morning have set a budget for the state’s four-year colleges and universities that matches the governor’s recommendation for a 6.2 percent increase in state general funds, though it’s slightly higher, at 7 percent, in total funds; Gov. Butch Otter’s recommended total-funds increase was 6.4 percent.

The JFAC-approved budget, like Otter’s, provides funding to add a second year of law school to the University of Idaho Law School’s Boise program, which now includes only the third year; covers occupancy costs for new buildings at BSU and ISU; provides a $1 million funding boost for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, to be shared by ISU, BSU and the U of I; and adds $200,000 in matching grant funds for a major National Science Foundation grant.

Like all state agency budgets, it also includes funding for 2 percent in salary increases; at the universities, that’s $3.7 million in state general funds and $2.7 million from dedicated funding sources. Budget writers shifted funds around from the governor’s recommendation, however, trimming funding for replacement items and instead tabbing $4 million in one-time funds for the State Board of Education to allocate as it chooses. They also trimmed back the governor’s $5 million recommendation toward funding the universities’ systemwide programs, putting $2.8 million toward those; the universities had requested $14 million.

Reps. Phylis King, D-Boise, and Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, proposed an alternative plan with a 7.7 percent general-fund increase and 7.8 percent in total funds, but it failed, 2-17. The successful motion, from Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls, and Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, then passed, 18-1, with just King objecting.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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