The Nebraska Legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to the state budget package, including adjustments to the University of Nebraska’s funding for 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Under the budget, which now heads to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ desk for consideration, the university’s appropriation would be cut $11 million in the current year, and next year’s funding would be reduced by about $6 million. An initial recommendation would have cut NU’s funding by $23 million next year.
While any cut will require difficult decisions, President Hank Bounds noted that the funding levels for the university recommended by the Appropriations Committee and approved by the full Legislature would help the university maintain its upward trajectory. Additionally, the University would not have to consider across-the-board tuition increases for 2018-19 beyond the 3.2 percent increase previously approved by the Board of Regents.
The Governor has until midnight next Monday to sign the budget, veto it, or veto line items in the package. Bounds said Tuesday’s vote represents an important step and thanked the Legislature for recognizing the university’s impact on the state.
“I’m grateful to members of the Legislature for their strong support of affordable, excellent education for the 53,000 students of the University of Nebraska,” Bounds said. “Chairman Stinner, Vice Chairwoman Bolz and members of the Appropriations Committee showed great leadership in making higher education a priority, and many of their colleagues in the body were passionate champions for the value the University brings to Nebraska’s economy and quality of life.
“While we still face difficult budget cuts, the funding approved by the Legislature would allow the University to maintain our affordability and continue our momentum in serving students and the people of our state.”
Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., chancellor of UNMC and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said that although tough decisions still lie ahead, the university would continue our growth-based strategy.
"The legislature, while showing a sense of fiscal responsibility, also has shown clear support for the mission of the University of Nebraska," Dr. Gold said. "With this support, UNMC and UNO will work hard to continue to have a positive educational and economic impact on the state of Nebraska."
Bounds also thanked the many students, faculty members, staff, and Nebraskans across the state who have voiced their support for the university over the past few months. University supporters filled the room for NU’s appropriations hearing on Feb. 14 and offered powerful testimony about the transformational impact of higher education. Well over 100 supporters, including students from across the campuses, also attended “I Love NU” Advocacy Day last month to share their stories with state senators.
Many others wrote letters and expressed their support in other ways, all of which made a clear impact on legislators as they went about the hard work of weighing the state’s budget priorities, Bounds said.
Bounds said he will meet with NU chancellors and other senior leadership soon to discuss next steps in terms of budget planning.
Members of the university community interested in receiving regular updates on NU’s legislative efforts and how they can get engaged can sign up to be a University of Nebraska Advocate here.