As higher-education advocates prepare for state legislative sessions across the country, a new reality has set in about what they can expect from state budgets.
“The new ‘good budget’ is the no-reduction budget,” says Daniel C. Holsenbeck, vice president for university relations at the University of Central Florida. “I think we’re looking at a good budget.”
Even as state tax revenues creep back into the black, lobbyists for public colleges are not expecting lawmakers to increase appropriations substantially, or at all, for the next fiscal year. In most cases, a flat budget might look good compared with recent years. Florida lawmakers, for instance, cut state appropriations for higher education by nearly 25 percent from 2008 to 2013, according to figures from an annual survey by researchers at Illinois State University.
Colleges that do hope to see larger appropriations are increasingly having to prove to lawmakers that they deserve them. Accountability has become the watchword of legislators who are interested in tying performance standards, such as completion rates, to state dollars. <Read more.>