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IU president encouraged by state budget plan

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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 after more than $150 million in cuts ordered by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels since 2009.

"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 within 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 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," Kenley said.

Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, asked Purdue Provost Tim Sands to thank Daniels, now Purdue's president, for the two-year tuition freeze he announced this month for in-state students at the West Lafayette campus.

McRobbie, meanwhile, discussed the 25-percent discount on summer semester tuition that IU is now offering at each of the seven campuses it oversees around the state.

Committee member Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, said he was glad the budget proposal would reverse some of the funding cuts in higher education. But he was still concerned that larger schools, like IU, would receive more money than smaller schools, such as 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.

The House spending plan dedicates nearly $3.6 billion over the next two years — about 12 percent of the state budget — toward funding the universities and college financial aid programs.

Kenley called the House proposal "very generous" toward the universities.

"It appears to be justified by the fact that they've taken cuts previously and they've worked hard to develop efficiencies all over the universities," he said.

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  1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

  2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

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  4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  5. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............

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