State operating support continues its decline

The Iowa Legislature adjourned May 5 in a session that included a second consecutive midyear cut to the state Board of Regents system. Iowa State's portion of the reversion, $5.4 million, becomes permanent in the general university operating appropriation for fiscal year 2019 approved last week by the House and Senate. Additional state support to Iowa State in FY19 is unlikely to recoup that loss.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has 30 days to to sign, veto or line-item veto bills that passed in the last three days of the legislative session.

At just under $167.5 million for the year that begins July 1, the general university appropriation is 3.1 percent less than it was last July 1. Iowa State's general university appropriation last dipped below $170 million in 2012.

Direct appropriations totaling nearly $52 million for the Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, Cooperative Extension, livestock disease research, Center for Industrial Research and Service, Small Business Development Centers and the ISU Research Park remain unchanged from the current year. Operating funds for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory would go up $100,000, to $4.1 million.

New funds

The education appropriations bill includes $8.3 million in additional funds for the three regent universities "to support new strategic initiatives, meet enrollment increases, meet the demand for new courses and services, to fund new but unavoidable or mandated cost increases, and to support any other initiatives important to the core functions of the universities." The bill doesn't direct how the funds should be shared, and the regents will make that decision at their June 7 meeting in Cedar Falls.

Prior to the midyear reversion, the regent universities were requesting $12 million in additional state support for FY19, pledging to use it exclusively for resident undergraduate financial aid.

Building appropriations

The Legislature affirmed its multiyear support for two Iowa State building projects and committed partially to a third. Funding in the year that begins July 1 looks like this:

  • Biosciences buildings (Bessey Hall addition and Advanced Teaching and Research Building): $4 million (final of four years), total state funds of $50 million
  • Student Innovation Center: Appropriation is reduced to $6 million instead of $10 million, (third of six years), $4 million added to final year, total state funds of $40 million
  • New Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory: $1 million (first of six years), total state funds of $63.5 million

The university's state funding request for the VDL remains $100 million toward the estimated $124 million facility. Private gifts ($20 million) and university funds ($4 million) are the other funding pieces.