Higher ed budget makes it past ND Senate with some changesBISMARCK — North Dakota’s Senate made some changes to the higher education budget before giving its approval Tuesday.
By: TJ Jerke, Forum News Service
BISMARCK — North Dakota’s Senate made some changes to the higher education budget before giving its approval Tuesday.
“It’s a bill that does embody and support change,” said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Maybe not as much change as some would like, maybe more change.”
Chancellor Hamid Shirvani said he was grateful the Senate passed the $1.1 billion general fund appropriation for the 11 public campuses and University System office for the 2013-15 biennium, despite the amendments.
“I’ve been around for some time and sometimes you don’t get everything you want,” he said.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s proposal for seven full-time equivalent positions, worth $3 million, for the University System office were taken out, but $1.3 million was added for system governance with the State Board of Higher Education able to specify the purpose of the money.
The amendments also removed $1 million for the University System to develop a master plan and space utilization study.
“Campuses have an idea what their building needs are,” Holmberg said.
Also cut was $1.5 million for new and expanding programs around the state.
Holmberg said campuses should prioritize what they have rather than dipping into state funding for new programs.
The bill addresses the University System information technology building on the University of North Dakota campus. After hearing discussion over the intent of the building to consolidate the entire system’s IT personnel, “we felt like we wanted to hold the board’s feet to the fire,” Holmberg said.
The bill now says all University System IT personnel have to be consolidated into the building within five years. The amendment, however, allows an IT staffer to continue working outside the new facility if they plan to retire or have a reason to stay at their location, as long as lawmakers sign off, Holmberg said.
The bill also will allow UND to purchase the UND REACT building, which was built with grant money from Centers of Excellence, a state economic development agency, a bank loan and federal money, but not direct state appropriations, Holmberg said.
He said, “the building has not lived up to it’s expectations,” and is underutilized. By passing the bill, UND will have authority to purchase the building and use rent to pay off the building. Tenants include organizations that use the building as a research and economic development facility.
Minot State University will receive $5 million to help address any problems as a result of flooding.
The UND School of Medicine will receive $800,000 for malpractice insurance but the funding will be directly transferred to the school, rather than the current system that appropriates the funding to the University System, who then gives it to the medical school.
Appropriations for each school includes:
- University System — $156.1 million
- Bismarck State College — $48.7 million
- Lake Region State College — $19.3 million
- Williston State College — $24.1 million
- University of North Dakota — $243.6 million
- North Dakota State University — $176.6 million
- North Dakota State College of Science — $50.5 million
- Dickinson State University — $28 million
- Mayville State University — $23.8 million
- Minot State University — $45.2 million
- Valley City State University — $26.6 million
- Dakota College at Bottineau — $8.8 million
- UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences — $55.1 million
- North Dakota Forest Service — $5.5 million