Iowa Lawmakers Anticipate 'Late Nights and Lots of Coffee' to Resolve Higher Education Budget

Tim Goral's picture

It will mean "late nights and a lot of coffee," but Senate Education Appropriations Chairman Brian Schoenjahn is confident a $65 million difference in the House and Senate higher education budget can be bridged.

Senate Democrats have proposed a $34 million increase in funds for the three regent universities while House Republicans have proposed a $31 million cut.

"It's appropriate and very important that after many years of deep budget cuts forced on us because the recession that we begin to restore the funding for all the regent institutions," Senate Education Committee Chairman Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, said.

There's no justification for the House cut, said Schoenjahn, an Arlington Democrat.

"If education is truly a priority - and it always seems to be in the campaigns, then it needs to be properly funded," he said.

There's no question it's a priority, said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Scott Raecker, R-Urbandale. But the question is bigger than how much to spend on higher education.

"There are several large-dollar differences that have to be resolved and none of them can be resolved in isolation," Raecker said. The Senate is proposing $556 million for higher education. The governor has proposed a $20 million increase to $545 million while the House is proposing $491 million for universities and community colleges.

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