The Iowa legislative session kicked off this week with budget recommendations from Governor Kim Reynolds. After Iowa State University experienced $9 million in reductions to its general university appropriation for this year, the governor has proposed a midyear cut of an additional $5.1 million to the Board of Regents appropriation for the current fiscal year (FY18). It does not stipulate how much of that reduction would fall on Iowa State University, though the Board said that if a midyear reversion is approved, any cuts would be primarily absorbed by Iowa State and the University of Iowa.
Additionally, our legislative priorities to fund a new Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (VDL) facility and supplement resident undergraduate financial aid were absent from the governor's FY19 budget.
While this is simply a recommendation at this point, the budget situation does not appear promising for higher education yet again. Over the past decade,
Iowa State has seen its total state appropriation drop by $56 million.
As recently as 2009, funding from the state accounted for 50% of Iowa State's general operating budget or the equivalent of $12,705 per resident student. But state funding levels have continuously dwindled. Iowa State's FY17 state appropriation accounted for less than 30% of our general operating budget or less than $9,000 per resident student. Students are held responsible for the remaining 70% through tuition and fees.
In the face of inadequate state support, students will bear the burden in the form of tuition increases. The Board of Regents has yet to set tuition rates for fall 2018 - the first reading would have typically taken place last October. However, with the uncertainty of state funding, the Board has delayed its first reading until February.
Insufficient funding from the state jeopardizes affordability and puts the quality of the student experience at risk. Iowa State has worked to manage this by keeping operational and administrative spending down. Less than 6.5% of Iowa State's core expenses goes to administrative costs. Our ability to reduce class sizes by attracting and retaining top faculty and staff has become increasingly difficult. Our student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1 is the highest of the Regents institutions, and our faculty salaries are among the lowest of our peer group.
Iowa State faces strong headwinds as we proceed into the legislative session, but with your voices we are hopeful that Iowa State's value, impact on the state, and critical need for state support will be shared far and wide.
The Alliance for Iowa State will continue to advocate for necessary state resources to operate the university at sufficient levels and advance our mission of education, research, extension and outreach.
We thank you in advance for supporting Iowa State University, and we will keep you informed throughout the legislative process.