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Last modified: Monday, April 4, 2005

Bloomington Herald-Times Articles

Senate budget good, bad for IU; Less for operations, more for capital
by Steve Hinnefeld, Herald-Times Staff Writer
April 1, 2005

The budget proposal moving through the Indiana Senate would reduce state operating funds for Indiana University's Bloomington campus each of the next two years.

That's the bad news. The good news for IU is that the plan adds badly needed capital funds for maintaining university facilities, including $45 million in bonds to renovate the IU Bloomington central heating plant.

J T. Forbes, IU's director of state relations, credited Senate fiscal leaders with responding to state universities' most urgent needs. The problem, he said, is that the state doesn't have enough money.

"Instead of expanding the slice of pie for higher education, they've kind of spread the filling around," he said.

The spending proposal, included in House Bill 1001, was approved 7-4 Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. It goes next to the full Senate; then, a House-Senate conference committee will draft a final budget plan.

The Senate budget increases state higher-education spending by $2 million, or 0.2 percent, each of the next two years. That includes spending for capital projects and for repair and rehabilitation of buildings.

Setting aside those items, it reduces state operating spending for IU Bloomington by 1.6 percent next year and 0.2 percent the following year. The campus gets $195.2 million this year in state operating appropriations.

The Senate plan uses a formula that gives extra money to campuses with growing enrollment, helping fast-growing Ivy Tech State College. It also includes an allowance for research costs, benefiting IU Bloomington.

But it reduces total higher-education operating spending in an effort to balance the state budget. And it gives universities no "plant expansion" money for the increased cost of opening and operating new buildings.

It eliminates state funding for IU's Division of Labor Studies and reduces to $1 the appropriation for the IU Bloomington-based Learn More Resource Center, which steers young students toward college.

"Until the economy recovers, it is a season of sacrifice," Forbes said.

The bill requires state universities to conduct public tuition hearings and to set tuition for two years at a time, allowing students and parents to plan for college costs. It calls for the Commission for Higher Education to develop a lengthy list of courses and degree programs for which credits will transfer from one state college or university to another.

The tuition and course-credit provisions were included in the House legislation, and IU officials don't object to them, Forbes said.

The Senate also calls for restoring half the delayed payments to universities that the state held back several years ago in a budget-balancing maneuver.

Reporter Steve Hinnefeld can be reached at 331-4374 or by e-mail at shinnefeld@heraldt.com.
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