Legislators began to take votes on key pieces of their state budget plan today, with the House earlier this evening approving the budget bill that outlines state spending for the three public universities. However it’s unclear whether the plan will provide enough of a boost in funding to fulfill the promise of a tuition freeze for in-state students at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Coralville, says the three schools are getting a one-and-a-quarter percent inflationary boost in general state support.
“It’s my understand that they could probably live with that, so we’ll see,” Dvorsky says. “We hope that the Regents will carefully look at it.”
The board that governs the universities and the governor have indicated it would require more to maintain a tuition freeze for a third consecutive year. A spokesman for the Board of Regents has declined to assess the likelihood of a tuition freeze until all the state budget details are finalized. More state tax dollars for the Regents schools are likely to be included in another bill that’s still under development.
Legislators are aiming to conclude their 2015 session by week’s end. Late today the House and Senate approved a status quo spending plan for the state’s judicial branch, although more money for court operations may be included in another piece of pending legislation.