A coalition of liberal-leaning groups has issued its own analysis of Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s spending priorities for higher education. Andrew Cannon authored the report for the Iowa Fiscal Partnership, to call lawmakers’ attention to the level of funding for the state universities and community colleges.

“Our hope is we’ll look at what is needed,” Cannon says.

According to Cannon’s calculations, the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa are getting 3.5 percent less state support this year compared to last year. Cannon also suggests state support of the 15 area community colleges is still less than it was in 2008 or in 2009.

“Over that same period, community college enrollment has grown from 88,000 students to over 106,000 students,” Cannon says. “So the questions we need to be asking: Are we meeting the needs or are students going to be faced with larger debt burdens as they move on to their careers?”

Governor Branstad’s spokesman says Iowa’s higher education institutions “are a priority for the governor, which is why they were one of the few institutions to receive increased funding in the governor’s recommended budget.” The governor’s aide noted the “overwhelming majority” of state agencies are seeing no increase or a reduction in funding during this time of “scarce” state resources.