The state’s regent universities would see their budgets cut by roughly $31 million from this year and be forced to freeze tuition rates for the 2012-13 fiscal year under a higher education appropriation bill that passed through a House panel on a party-line vote Wednesday.
The tuition freeze came as an unexpected amendment to the higher education appropriations bill, which already had a $65 million difference between what the House and Senate wanted to spend.
“We’ve asked the regents for years why tuition increases outpace inflation or outpace the cost of living,” said Rep. Nick Wagner, R-Marion, vice chairman of the appropriations committee. “The argument is ‘Well, the state hasn’t increased funding,’ but even when the state has increased funding, tuition has increased.”
Democrats joined Republicans in attaching the tuition freeze amendment to the bill, but then voted against the bill once it was attached.
“Look, we all want to keep tuition low, and the amendment says we will keep tuition low,” said Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee. He said the tuition freeze was “ridiculous” in light of the House’s overall cut to regent university funding.