A plan from House Republicans that would make nearly $33 million worth of cuts in the current state budget calls for spending reductions of more than $8 million at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, but there would be no cuts for the University of Northern Iowa.
The House Appropriations Committee approved the plan today that would spare UNI from mid-year budget cuts.
“We feel that UNI’s in a little bit different situation than the other two would be and so that’s why we landed in the position we did,” said Representative Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, represents the UNI campus.
“We are almost wholly reliant on the state contribution because we don’t have the research dollars or the out-of-state students that the other two institutions have,” Danielson said.
Out-of-state students pay significantly higher tuition, but 92 percent of UNI’s students are Iowa residents, so they pay significantly lower tuition. In January, Governor Kim Reynolds presented legislators with an outline of her recommended cuts to the current year’s state budget. And Reynolds also called for sparing UNI from spending reductions.
It’s unclear when legislators will approve the overall plan to ensure the current year’s state budget doesn’t sink into red ink. Representative Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City, said the need to reduce the current year’s state budget should raise “many red flags” since the state’s economy is booming.
“I don’t see any signals that a long-range vision for state budget management is coming to bear,” Hall said. “I don’t get a whole lot of confidence out of the ways these decisions are being made and don’t have any confidence in how I’ve seen them unfold over the last year.”
Representative Grassley told Hall Republicans are “trying to err on the side of caution” — then — during an early morning meeting — Grassley responded with humor.
“I scheduled this on Valentine’s Day because I thought you were going to give me more love than that, Representative Hall,” Grassley said.
House leaders have not indicated when they plan to schedule debate on the House floor about resolving issues in the current year’s state budget.