Higher Ed Demands Yet Another Big Budget Increase
“That incident that happened last year is not going to happen again,” Chancellor Hamid Shirvani promised legislators during a meeting of the Higher Education Committee earlier this week. Shirvani was referring to North Dakota State University president Dean Bresciani thumbing his nose at legislators and demanding a whopping 8.5% tuition increase after university officials had promised to keep tuition increases below 2.5% in exchange for a bigger funding increase. The State Board of Higher Education went along with Bresciani, but Shirvani’s promise to legislators this week is a sign that, after a couple of years of scandal and black eyes, the university system doesn’t have the same sort of political capital it once did.
But that’s not stopping them from requesting yet another aggressive funding increase. The university system wants their budget increased by more than 14%, up to $696.6 million, in addition to $159.7 in building projects and other supposedly “one time” expenditures. They’re also requesting an army of new employees, 183 university wide.
Members of the interim Higher Education Committee were given a presentation on the proposed budget from Chancellor Ham Shirvani. The budget request includes approximately $696.6 million in general fund dollars as well as $159.7 million in capital funding and one-time expenditures on buildings and maintenance projects.
“The budget has been built from the ground up,” Shirvani said.
The increase in general fund requests is about $99.4 million over the current biennium. It includes requests for a total of 183.5 new full-time equivalent employees.
A total of 150.5 new employees are requested, including 30 new employees in the North Dakota University System office and 120.5 for additional employees at different campuses across the state.
An additional 33 requested employees fill out the 183.5 total. Twenty-four requested new employees for the agricultural experiment main and branch stations across the state, seven new extension service positions and two forest service employees also are requested.
Just to put this into perspective, I created a chart contrasting growth in higher ed spending (excluding building projects and one-time spending) up to and including this latest request with growth in average full time equivalent enrollment from the NDUS’ most recent report. As you can see, while FTE enrollment has grown just 11.5% since 2003, general fund appropriations for the university system will have grown over 91% through the next biennium if this funding request is met:
Before legislators give higher education officials in North Dakota another dime, we need an explanation for why spending from the taxpayers on the universities is growing so much faster than enrollment.Tags: hamid shiravni, higher education, North Dakota News