Republicans in the Iowa House are defending their vote to temporarily eliminate funding for sabbaticals at the state’s three public universities. The eighteen-month cut is included in the budgeting cutting bill Republicans approved and sent to the Senate.
The cost of hiring replacements is more than $400,000s yearly, and that does not include salaries paid to those who are on sabbatical. Representative Nick Wagner, a Republican from Marion, says some sabbaticals have merit but that might not always be the case.
“We’ve got to look at this and what we’ve seen in the past as far as those that have been approved, it’s very difficult to explain to the taxpayer how that one makes sense and how some of those make sense.” Wagner says. Wagner says the universities should consider using non-taxpayer dollars to fund sabbaticals.
University of Iowa biomedical engineering professor, Tom Casavant, says the university benefits financially through his sabbaticals.
“I think there’s a very broad spectrum of the kinds of payoffs and I think for some of them it’s very easy to draw a solid dark line from the sabbatical to some tangible thing in the budget, I think though the benefit of sabbaticals goes very far beyond that,” Casavant.
Casavant says some of the benefits include allowing professors to learn better teaching methods and develop new programs.
Cassavant and Wagner were guests Monday on the Iowa Public Radio program, “The Exchange.”