Update: Iowa State responds to midyear cuts


iowa state capitol

Danielle Gehr, and Alex Connor

Update Jan. 26: Iowa State responded to the proposed $6.9 million cuts to their current fiscal year through an email sent out to the students, faculty and staff. 

The email points out that these proposed cuts in state appropriations come after the university withstood recent cuts totaling $11.5 million. 

The midyear cuts proposed by the Senate would be devastating and result in immediate and long-lasting impacts both on campus and to Iowans in all 99 counties,” the email from Iowa State read.

Repercussions from the loss of funds were listed and included classes being cut from the upcoming summer and fall semesters, cutting down on resident financial aid, laying off employees and reducing student services.

A recent survey indicated that 94 percent of Iowans support keeping college affordable, according to the email. 

“Iowa State University is a key driver of the state’s workforce and economic success; reductions of this scale will be harmful and long-lasting,” the email stated.

The email urged readers to contact their legislators and the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Charles Schneider and ask them to vote against cutting $6.9 million from Iowa State University.

Original: Iowa State and other state institutions may face more cuts to fiscal year 2018 after Senate Republicans proposed $52 million cut to state spending Thursday, The Gazette in Cedar Rapids reported.

The bill proposed Iowa State be cut by $6.9 million. The University of Iowa will be cut the most out of the three regent universities—$8.7 million—and the University of Northern Iowa may be cut by $3.7 million.

This amounts to over $19 million in cuts to the universities. Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed the Board of Regents, the governing body of the institutions, be cut by $5.1 million. 

Student Government President Cody West said the Senate’s budget adjustment bill surprised him and is something he finds heartbreaking considering the efforts he and Student Government took to have their voices better heard in the statehouse and Regents this past year.

“All year we worked to amplify student voices,” West said.

For West, he said he sees it as a battle of priorities and finds it devastating to see a continuous hit to higher education.

“It’s a short-term fix that leads to long-term problems,” West said.

He added, however, that he has appreciated the work the Iowa Board of Regents is doing in response to fluctuating appropriations to education this year and last, noting the Regents’ effort to only raise tuition once this cycle.

Kody Olson, senior director of governmental affairs for Student Government said that “directly contradicts with our government leaders’ vision in building a more skilled workforce to keep Iowa competitive in a global economy,” in a statement to the Daily.

Because of the opportunities and leadership from faculty that Iowa State University has provided me with, I’ve had tremendous global experiences and internships that have set me up well for a career. I want the same for my fellow Iowans – especially those who come from small towns and may not have as many opportunities,” Olson said.

Olson added that students can try to have an impact on the lawmakers’ decisions.

“I hope that students will reach out to their legislators and share their stories and provide lawmakers with insight on how ISU contributes to Iowa’s economy and is a worthwhile investment for a better tomorrow,” Olson said.

Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee and said the midyear cuts won’t affect K-12 schools, Medicaid or public safety programs, the Gazette reported. With the proposed cuts, the Republicans aim to create a $35 million cushion by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach said, to give clarity to the timeline, that the numbers were released Thursday morning and the bill was passed through the Appropriations Committee this afternoon. 

“So, process-wise, [the Appropriations Committee is] allowing zero time for any kind of public input or comment or any kind of thoughtful analysis of the impacts of what they’re proposing,” Quirmbach said. 

Quirmbach said he doesn’t know how the universities will be able to make up for the cuts to the current fiscal year after the semester already started. The options to increase tuition and cut classes passed after the first day of classes.

“I don’t know how Iowa State’s going to find $6.9 million when they have already committed to most of the expenditures for the school year,” Quirmbach said.

He called the proposed cuts disastrous and said that nearly half of the total $52 million cuts fall on higher education when accounting for the cuts to Iowa community colleges. 

“This has an impact. I mean, we can talk about the numbers, but what you’re talking about is reduced services to students, what you’re talking about is probably a significant tuition increase next year because the university runs in the red this year or has to draw down reserves will have to make that up,” Quirmbach said. 

He added that this will lead to another year without employee salary increases and students paying more and getting less.