Gov. Reynolds ‘Condition of the State’

Provost Jim Wolhpart commented that future budgetary increases to the Board of Regents would be helpful to UNI.

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Provost Jim Wolhpart commented that future budgetary increases to the Board of Regents would be helpful to UNI.

JOSHUA DAUSENER, Copy Editor | [email protected]

Governor Kim Reynolds gave her first address as Iowa’s governor on Tuesday. Reynolds lauded the actions of Iowa’s Republican controlled government throughout 2017, which Reynolds described as “the most pro-jobs session in decades,” and outlined her government’s priorities for the 2018 legislative session.

Reynolds praised Republican efforts on issues including reducing the scope of collective bargaining laws, prohibiting late-term abortions, implementing voter ID laws, loosening gun control restrictions and increasing funding in K-12, pre-apprenticeship and community college education, along with trade programs.

The governor then outlined her goals for the 2018 legislative session, which opened earlier this week.

Priorities include: improving water quality, growing rural communities, tax cuts and reform modeled off of the tax cuts passed by the federal government at the end of 2017, fighting the opioid and heroin epidemics and reforming Iowa’s health care system while going all in on the privatization of Medicaid.

Reynolds garnered a bipartisan round of applause after addressing sexual harassment throughout the country and Iowa, saying, “Throughout history, sexual harassment has been a stain on our culture, a destructive force in politics, media and entertainment, in workplaces large and small, in all facets of life — and it must stop. I commend the number of women who have found the courage to speak out […] I understand we’re at an unprecedented moment in time.”

Reynolds stated at the beginning of her speech, “We balanced the state budget, protecting taxpayers while safeguarding important priorities like education. We invested in our kids at a record level, committing $735 million more for education since 2011. We prepared our students for the jobs of tomorrow, through work-based learning, pre-apprenticeship and computer science programs.”

In spite of increases in K-12 education funding, Regent schools did receive cuts.

UNI received a two and half million dollar budget cut before the 2017 school year, resulting in various cuts on campus and a five percent increase in undergraduate tuition.

Reynolds’ 2018 budget outlines an additional five million dollar cut to the Board of Regents, however Reynolds’ fiscal year 2019 budget calls for an increase in funding to the Regents’ Institutions.

UNI Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Wohlpart commented, “I do understand her budget is out, and that it calls for a five million plus cut to Regent’s institutions, but will hopefully hold UNI harmless. Because we are much more dependent on state appropriations than the other two institutions, UNI greatly appreciates this strategy. Because we largely teach Iowa students, who stay in Iowa once they graduate, we do not have access to the tuition that out-of-state students provide. I also understand that her FY 19 budget calls for an increase in state funding for the Regents’ Institutions. This would provide us the ability to keep the increase in tuition somewhat lower.”

The Board of Regents also released a statement on the governor’s budget that read: “The Board of Regents appreciates Governor Reynold’s support for higher education and the proposed increase to the Regents enterprise for FY19 […] Any reduction is challenging, but the Board recognizes the current fiscal situation the state is facing. We will work with our institutions to make any required FY18 reductions in ways that have as little impact on students as possible. 

“The Board and institutional leaders look forward to working with the Governor and General Assembly during the legislative session. We will continue to advocate for the level of funding for our public universities that is necessary to provide a high quality for our students.”