IBJNews

State universities gird for budget battles

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Higher-education leaders in Indiana got an early taste Thursday of what will likely be a tough predicament for anyone relying on state aid when lawmakers return in January to write the budget.

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie told members of the State Budget Committee that his institution has grown into a lean operation over the last four years. Vincennes University President Dick Helton asked the panel for $8 million to run a vocational training program but was met with skepticism.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, a Noblesville Republican who will lead the budget drafting next year, told the group that state tax collections are unlikely to improve much next year and the strain on the budget could be great.

"There's sort of an element, or a sense that people have waited long enough and there are some things that they think it's time we have to do this or it's time we have to do that," Kenley said. "There is going to be an enormous amount of competition for whatever funds are out there."

Gov.-elect Mike Pence and the General Assembly will head into the 2013 session with roughly $2 billion in cash reserves collected through budget cuts made by outgoing Gov. Mitch Daniels, improved tax collections and federal stimulus aid that carried the state through the recession.

Pence campaigned on a proposal to cut the state's personal income tax by 10 percent and maintain the state's cash reserves at an amount equal to 12.5 percent of state spending. But House leaders have urged caution on approving new tax cuts, noting that the Legislature already has cut the corporate income tax and is phasing out the inheritance tax.

Kenley noted that tax collections could grow by 1.5 percent in the coming budget cycle, giving lawmakers little to work with in terms of new spending or restored funding.

"So it's going to be a tough session in that regard," he said. "We've kind of all approached this with a partnership approach over the last four to five years. I think we need to stick with it, I don't think we're out of the woods."

The pinch for Indiana universities has been pronounced with a request from the Commission for Higher Education and lawmakers that they not shift the burden to students through increased tuition costs.

McRobbie told the panel Thursday that his university, like every other one, has done less with more.

"IU is both educating more students and producing more degrees with reduced staffing and with fewer state funds," he said. "These efficiencies and productivity gains have not been easy, as you're well aware. But I often remind my colleagues that no one has had it easy in this state — and most other states, too — during the recent period of economic difficulty."

Helton, the Vincennes president, asked the panel for $8 million to pay for equipment at a vocational training center which would help high school students graduate with associate's degrees, positioning them better to find work out of school.

"We're going to enhance an opportunity because these students will have better opportunities to get a degree," he said.

Kenley grilled him on the details of how the state money would be spent before pointing out programs will need strong justifications to win money from the state.

"It's not like you're going to be opening some new ice cream stand on the corner and business will just show up," Kenley said. "There's got to be some reason for why we're going to do this."

ADVERTISEMENT

  • more or less
    "McRobbie told the panel Thursday that his university, like every other one, has done less with more." I believe your writer meant "more with less." As a frequent visitor to campus and observer of trends, I believe this trend is evident. Congrats to the university leaders who have been struggling with less money but have managed to keep the schools on an even keel.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

  5. Oh wait. Never mind.

ADVERTISEMENT