Regents request nearly $13 million for UI


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The state Board of Regents plans to request approximately $12.9 million in supplemental funding from lawmakers to help the three state universities ease into a recently adopted funding model.

The performance-based funding model stresses the in-state enrollment, which determines 60 percent of funding for University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa.

The other 40 percent is determined by performance-based metrics, such as student credit hour thresholds and degree production.

The first year of the new funding model would start July 1, 2015. The regents will discuss the new proposal today and Wednesday at their meeting.

Joe Brennan, the UI vice president for Strategic Communication, said the regents will ask Gov. Terry Branstad and the Legislature to provide some extra funding to implement the performance-based funding without having to reduce the UI’s funding.

“The two other public universities would see increases to state appropriations, and we would see a decrease based on the same criteria,” he said. “Instead of taking money away from the university and giving it to the other two, the board will ask the governor and the Legislature to provide that extra funding so they won’t have to take it out of our funding.”

Funding for public universities in Iowa comes from a pool of about $509.8 million.

The new performance-based funding model, with the current metrics, would reallocate $46.5 million from the UI to the other universities.  There is a maximum three-year period until the performance-based funding will take full effect.

Until then, a maximum amount of 2 percent of the previous fiscal year’s operating revenues will be used to calculate the amount of money redistributed among the universities. 

The UI would be the only institution losing funding.

Within the first year of the funding model taking place, the UI would lose areound $12.9 million, while ISU would see an increase of approximately $6.3 million. UNI would receive the largest funding increase with around $6.6 million being allocated to the university.

The money being requested would buy time and prevent a loss from the UI’s budget for another year. 

“[The funding model] would begin to affect us right away,” Brennan said. “[With the new allocation we] are held harmless for the upcoming budget year, we wouldn’t see a decrease, but the other school will see an increase, and that’s really good for us.”

These metrics will be recalculated every year to adjust for changes in the universities during the agreed upon three-year period, said regent Communications Officer Sheila Doyle Koppin.

This new funding model is supposed to increase equity across the universities and more transparently and effectively link money spent and invested by the state to the state’s priorities, according to a report released by the regents.

The regents will present the budget request to Branstad by Oct. 1, Brennan said. Branstad, in turn, would determine his own budget proposal and will present that to the Legislature in January.

The Legislature will then spend the session working on the budget. Ultimately, Branstad will approve or disapprove the appropriation.

“I think there needs to be more discussion of the proposed funding model,” Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City. “It’s a bad idea to cut funding to [the UI] now.”

Bolkcom said he is worried the competition it creates might reduce the quality of certain academic programs.

“We’ll be working hard to make sure all of our public universities get the funding that they need,” he said. “The performance-based funding is short on performance measures and creates unnecessary competition between the schools.”

However, some legislators don’t believe the regents should ask for more funding after adopting the new funding method.

“It doesn’t seem to make much sense to me to change the funding model and then ask for more money from outside the funding model,” said Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone.

Baltimore said there needs to be more attention devoted to figuring out the new funding model’s viability.

“Thirteen million sounds like a drop in the bucket compared to the UI’s total budget,” he said. “I would think the [UI] could find a way to cut that amount easily.”

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