A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke
The budget passed by the House of Representatives on Feb. 20 provides very convincing evidence that Indiana legislators recognize that higher education has an important strategic role to play for our state.
House Bill 2008 restores many of the budget reductions imposed on the colleges and universities under the Deficit Management Plan. The bill adds a total of $60 million in operating appropriations to higher education funding in the 2003-04 fiscal year and another $26.1 million in the following year. It also includes $12.7 million in repair and rehabilitation funding for each year of the biennium.
It's important to understand that these revenues do not restore all the budget reductions and funding delays that Purdue and its fellow colleges and universities have experienced. For example, the $25.5 million in R&R funding represents only one-quarter of the amount requested under the state's funding formula. According to the Commission for Higher Education, all the budget cuts and delays for the seven institutions add up to $250 million for the 2001-03 biennium.
However, I believe it is very significant that the membership of the House has approved a budget that attempts to restore some of higher education's losses at a time when our state continues to face significant revenue shortages. That tells us that our legislators understand that education is part of the long-term solution for Indiana.
It's also encouraging that the House budget included bonding authority totaling $222.7 million for economic development-related facilities projects at campuses throughout the state. Three key Purdue projects were among those approved:
The Millennium Engineering Building will house a variety of engineering programs and is the key to a major upgrade of that school's facilities in West Lafayette.
The Biomedical Engineering Building will allow the growth of a key academic program. The demand for graduates with degrees in biomedical engineering will continue to grow in Indiana, and Purdue has initiated a bachelor's degree program to go with the existing master's degree program to help meet the need. Research in this rapidly expanding field also can play a key role in economic development. Tissue engineering technology licensed to Cook Biotech Inc. already is the basis for an important business venture.
A new music building at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne will provide important support for that campus' programs.
The House of Representatives has made an important statement about Indiana's priorities. The Senate will take the next steps, and the weeks ahead will determine destiny of our state.
The Alliance for Indiana's Future, which played a key role in resolving the tough legislative issues of 2002, continues to grow. The alliance now includes 37 members, and it remains focused on a set of five principles intended to grow the state's economy and improve the quality of life for all citizens.
Look for the alliance play a key role as the legislative process unfolds this spring.