INDIANAPOLIS – A proposed boost in the state’s higher education funding is an encouraging step after more than $150 million was cut during the recession, Indiana University’s president said Thursday.
IU President Michael McRobbie and other state university leaders testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is reviewing the new two-year state spending plan. The version approved last month by the Republican-controlled House includes a 3.5 percent increase for the state’s seven public universities – up from the 1 percent hike proposed by GOP Gov. Mike Pence.
The House proposal would add $42 million in operating money to the universities.
I’m very pleased that, after four years of a very tight economy and very tight funding for higher education, that the Legislature seems to be really very strongly supportive of reinvesting in higher education, McRobbie said after he testified.
McRobbie and other university officials outlined steps they’ve taken to limit student tuition increases and course-tracking programs aimed at making it more likely that students can graduate with degrees in four years.
State legislators have pushed university leaders on those issues, saying the schools needed to be more concerned about affordability and holding down student debt. Appropriations committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said he was pleased with the actions taken by Purdue, IU and other schools.
I think we’re all working on that together now, and I’m glad to see that, he said.
Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, said he was glad the budget proposal would reverse some of the funding cuts, but he was still concerned that larger schools would receive more money than smaller schools like Ball State and Indiana State.
I don’t know that this budget is going to get them back to where they were a few years ago, Skinner said.