Feb. 11, 2010

Budget planning moves toward April date with the regents

by Anne Krapfl

Work continues on building the university's budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Pending outcomes of the 2010 legislative season, university leaders expect to present a preliminary budget to the state Board of Regents at the board's April 28-29 meeting.

The university's FY11 budget will be at least $53 million lighter in state funding over what it was just 18 months ago -- on July 1, 2008. That includes a reduction to the FY10 budget on July 1 and a $24.5 million mid-year reversion. Gov. Chet Culver has proposed returning $10.8 million to Iowa State yet this year, and the 2010 Iowa Legislature must approve a supplemental appropriation bill for that to occur.

Additionally, $31.6 million in federal stimulus funds awarded to Iowa State must be spent by June 30.

Campus efforts

Five cross-unit planning teams are working toward a March 1 deadline to wrap up their assignments. They were appointed in December by executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman to review specific functions or programs that cross administrative or academic units. Theirs is an information-gathering assignment; they are not being asked to make recommendations for changes.

Colleges and vice president-level units are conducting their own series of meetings with an eye on shrinking their budgets again in FY11. As a starting point and as directed by Hoffman in December, they are developing budgets that are 5 to 10 percent smaller than their original expense budgets for the current fiscal year. Upcoming dates in their planning process include:

  • Feb. 25: Units receive preliminary budget reduction targets
  • April 1: Units' preliminary budget reduction plans are due in the provost office

As part of the planning process this spring, unit leaders (deans, vice presidents) are required to submit monthly summaries of their discussions and work to the executive vice president and provost's office. Provost office staff in turn is compiling a summary of those unit reports for online posting.

Additionally, the president's budget cabinet is meeting weekly, and Hoffman is preparing budget memos as new planning information becomes available.

External variables

The state's next Revenue Estimating Conference will be held in March; the date is not finalized yet. The Legislature uses the revenue estimate in the FY11 budget-building process.

The Legislature is in the fifth week of a proposed 12-week session. ISU state relations officer Andy Baumert told the state Board of Regents last week that a key variable in the state FY11 budget the Legislature develops is a government reorganization bill, aimed at reducing duplication and waste, improving the efficiency of state government and cutting costs. Culver's proposed FY11 budget relies on $341 million in savings or new fees. Baumert noted that the savings estimate is in constant flux as the legislators work. A government reorganization bill made it through the Iowa Senate last week and is scheduled for discussion on the House floor this week.

There will be at least one kind of additional revenue next year. Last week, the regents set tuition levels for next fall: a 6 percent increase for in-state students and 4.1 percent increase for out-of-state students. With mandatory fees holding steady at this year's rate ($895), the combined tuition-fee increase will be 5.2 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.