March 31, 2011

An update from the Iowa Legislature

Iowa State's FY12 budget

While it may be another month before we know our state appropriations, development of Iowa State's FY 2012 budget continues. With the state Board of Regents vote last week, we now know our tuition rates for the 2011-12 academic year. The regents approved a 5 percent increase for resident undergraduate and graduate students, and a 3.5 percent increase for nonresident undergraduate and graduate students. The related good news is that enrollment projections for fall continue to be encouraging.

We will provide compensation guidelines in the next budget planning memo, which we hope to issue by mid-April.

-- Elizabeth Hoffman, executive vice president and provost

Editor's note: This update from the Iowa Capitol was provided to Inside Iowa State by Ann McCarthy, the university's state relations officer.

The Iowa Legislature is counting down to April 29, the 110th and final day of the 2011 session. Two major bumps in the road -- appropriations and redistricting -- could delay adjournment to mid-May.

State funding for Iowa State

The appropriation process traditionally is an endgame sprint, with regents funding finalized in the closing hours. This session promises to follow that pattern.

As of Tuesday (March 29), three budget proposals remain on the table. FY12 budget proposals for Iowa State by the governor, the House and the Senate range from level funding next year to a 9 percent cut (approximately $15 million). There are no plans for a salary bill for the regent institutions. Under any of these scenarios, next year promises to be another belt-tightening year at Iowa State.

Amidst the budget uncertainty, there is one bright spot. HF 648, the House infrastructure bill, funds Iowa State's top-priority capital project, phase 2 of the biorenewables complex on the west side of campus. Phase 2 would add a new facility for the agricultural and biosystems engineering (ABE) department. (Phase 1, the Biorenewables Research Laboratory, was completed last year.)

HF 648 appropriates a total of $60 million from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) over four years, allowing the university to move forward with this critical project. RIIF funding, which can be used only for infrastructure, complements $16 million in private donations received to date for the ABE project.

New district boundaries

As budget negotiations begin in earnest next week, legislators will be distracted from that task by the introduction of the first redistricting plan. Every 10 years, following the United States census, Iowa must redraw the boundary lines for its congressional and legislative districts to reflect the current population distribution.

Iowa law requires that the first redistricting plan be delivered to the Legislature by March 31 and voted on by April 15. The second roadbump to adjourning the 2011 session occurs if the Legislature rejects the first redistricting plan and asks for a second plan. If this happens, adjournment would move to mid-May.