Wednesday, October 22, 2008

U's Budget Increase Request DOA

Time for the Annual Game of Tuition Blackmail?

From the Daily:
Two legislators from both parties said the University of Minnesota’s $141.2 million budget increase request is unlikely to be paid in full.

“I believe the University must present an honest and responsible biennial budget request that demonstrates our most pressing needs,” Bruininks said in an e-mail acquired by the Daily to University faculty and staff on Monday.

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said the University and the rest of the state should expect less money than they are requesting this upcoming session. “Everybody has a Christmas list, but that doesn’t mean they get everything they wish for,” Rukavina said.

The tuition increase included with the University’s request has been a point of contention for both students and lawmakers.

Dustin Norman, chairman of the student representatives to the Board of Regents, said he is concerned the University would increase the tuition more should it not get all the funds requested. University administration officials were unavailable for comment Monday, but University spokesman Dan Wolter said a larger tuition increase would be a possibility should the state reject some of the budget request.

The 4.5 percent increase would be smaller than the 7.3 percent increase this year, and much lower than the double digit increases earlier this decade, but lawmakers are still concerned about the issue.

Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, said the planned increase is still too much.

“The state’s not going to have money because the taxpayers aren’t going to have money either,” she said. “And families won’t have money to pay tuition.” Robling, the ranking minority member of the Higher Education Budget and Policy Division, said she thought an increase around two percent would be more reasonable.

She also said the $141 million request is unlikely to be fulfilled.

Rukavina, the chair of a House higher education finance board, said he hopes to add provisions to University funding intended to keep down tuition.

“We could still sharpen the pencil and talk about the fact there were some pretty hefty hikes the past couple of years,” he said.

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