A legislative hearing about shutting down the University of Northern Iowa’s laboratory school for student teachers evolved into a debate about declining state support of UNI, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. Senator Sandy Greiner, a Republican from Keota, said she’s been “stunned” by the positive reaction from her constituents to the cuts at UNI.

“To a T, what I’m hearing from these people is, ‘Thank God we finally got somebody with the intestinal fortitude to grab the bull by the horn and do what needs to be done,'” Greiner said.

Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, said he “doesn’t know why” Iowans don’t want to “invest” in the state universities.

“Iowa is one of the (most) well-off states in the nation and why we’re whacking away at public education budgets at every level I don’t understand,” Kibbie said.

Senator Kent Sorenson, a Republican from Indianola, said while he may not agree with each decision, UNI’s administrators should be commended for making cuts.

“I wish other parts of the state government and other people in state government would be as pro-active,” Sorenson said.

Kibbie suggested continually cutting state support of the public universities is counter-productive.

“I hear all this anti-government, anti-government,” Kibbie said. “The definition of that is anti-public school.”

This debate happened this morning during a Government Oversight Committee meeting in the senate. The Iowa House, meanwhile, this afternoon is engaged in a similar debate about state support of the universities in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City. House Republican propose reducing state support of Iowa, Iowa State and U-N-I next year by $31 million.