Braun provides UNI legislative update

JOSHUA DAUSENER, Copy Editor

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UNI State Relations Officer Mary Braun hosted a state legislative update on Friday, Jan. 19. At the meeting, hosted in the Presidential Room of Maucker Union, Braun brought those in attendance up to speed on what the Iowa state government was up to and how it pertained to UNI.

The leading issue on the table is a potential $5.5 million cut to the Board of Regents (BOR), proposed in Governor Kim Reynold’s budget.

The silver lining for UNI is that despite the cut to the BOR, Regents’ funding may only be cut from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University (ISU), holding UNI harmless — a point UNI Provost Jim Wohlpart also suggested last week.

The reasoning behind this is that UNI is significantly more reliant on state funding than the other two state universities, and that further cuts to state funding will harm UNI more than Iowa or ISU.

According to Braun, UNI will be requesting an additional $34.6 million from the state: $32.6 million for the renovation of the Innovative Teaching and Technology Center (ITTC), initially built in 1974, and $2 million meant for additional financial aid to students.

Braun then discussed two bills in the Iowa Legislature that pertained to UNI. The first was a bill to eliminate tenure at Iowa’s three state universities, sponsored by Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale.

UNI strongly opposed the bill. According to Braun, “we believe this bill is dead.”

The second bill was an amendment to the competitive bidding process in Iowa, which UNI is also planning to lobby against.

As the 2018 legislative session continues, the future of the budget is the looming issue. Final budget figures will not be calculated until the March revenue projections are released.

Braun expressed hope that UNI’s needs would be considered in the State House.

“We’re the Iowa school with the Iowa students,” Braun said. “They’re recognizing that […] Both parties are recognizing that.”

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