Gov. Pete Ricketts on Tuesday released his proposed state budget package for the 2019-21 biennium, including funding for the University of Nebraska that would cover NU’s request for increases in salaries, benefits and health insurance over the next two years.
The Governor’s budget proposal also includes funds for a previously announced state scholarship program that would support students in high-need areas like math, engineering, healthcare, computer information systems and at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.
President Hank Bounds called the Governor’s proposed budget “a good starting point for our conversations with legislators” for the session that began last week.
“Through fiscal challenges, the University has done everything possible to protect our priorities of affordability and academic excellence,” Bounds said. “We know our budget work is not over. But the best way to grow our state and solve the urgent workforce crisis facing our communities is to invest in one of Nebraska’s most powerful economic engines: the University. I appreciate that the Governor recognizes our workforce challenges and is taking steps to address them. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and state senators on a plan to ensure the long-term prosperity of our state.”
The budget now moves to the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, which will release its own proposal before agency hearings and potential revisions. The Committee will then advance its final recommendation to the full Legislature for debate before a budget package is returned to the Governor for his consideration.
Bounds noted that while the Governor’s proposal fully funds the university’s request for 2 percent annual increases for salaries and benefits, as well as increases for health insurance, cost increases for utilities and other operations are not funded. That would create a recurring budget gap of about $4.9 million, which would come on top of the significant work the university has done to close a budget gap that stood at $49 million at the beginning of the current biennium.
Even if the university’s biennial budget request were fully funded, Bounds said, NU leadership would still have to consider tuition increases and additional reductions given that the request did not reflect all the university’s needs.
Still, Bounds praised chancellors, campus leadership teams and faculty and staff for their ongoing commitment to preserving the university’s momentum. The Budget Response Team effort in particular, which has yielded $22 million in administrative savings, has helped protect academic programs and accessibility for students. Bounds also pointed to enrollment successes, research growth, facilities expansion, deepened public-private partnerships and numerous other successes across all campuses in recent years as evidence that the university has kept its focus on the future even during challenging times.
Looking ahead, Bounds said the university will continue its work in attracting talent, growing Nebraska’s workforce and transforming the lives of its 52,000 students and citizens in Nebraska and beyond.Complete details on the Governor’s proposed budget package are available here.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.