About that surplus | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

About that surplus

Posted By on Tue, Jul 11, 2006 at 4:00 PM

Presidents of the state's colleges and universities have some ideas on spending some of the surplus. See Higher Education Department news release on the jump.


Higher Education Presidents Council
Reviews 2007-09 Funding Recommendations

LITTLE ROCK (July 11, 2006) — The Presidents Council reviewed the Arkansas Department of Higher Education’s 2007-09 biennial recommendations for public colleges and universities’ operating and capital funding at its regular meeting today. The recommended funding distribution will be presented to the Higher Education Coordinating Board for approval Aug. 4 before going to the Arkansas General Assembly.

Operating recommendations for the 2007-09 biennium continue the proposed four-year schedule for closing the gap between state appropriations and the need of public higher education institutions that was initiated in current biennium.  The total new funding needed for 2005-06 to fund institutions at the same level in constant dollars as 2000-01 was $833.1 million; however, actual funding realized for 2005-06 was $678.8 million, $154.3 million below the needed amount.  The institutions have been forced to resort to tuition increases to compensate, at least partially, for lost purchasing power. The recommendations call for $109.8 million in new funding for 2007-08 and $125.6 million for 2008-09 if the funding schedule is to be maintained. The recommendations provide funds for the state’s general revenue share of a 2.95 percent cost-of-living raise, bringing all public institutions to a minimum of 75 percent of the formula-generated need and additional funds for closing the equity gap. The distribution includes funds for economic development incentives for two-year colleges in the amount of $300,000 to each institution. These funds would be released after the institutions submit proposals to the Department of Higher Education for approval. Recommendations are listed at http://www.arkansashighered.com/if/links/OperatingTablesAHECBv1.08.pdf.

A total of $318 million was recommended for all capital funding projects based on institutional square footage needed, condition of existing facilities, enrollment and historical capital funding. These capital recommendations include $268.9 million for funding technology infrastructure, renovation and new construction priorities and $16.3 million in secondary priorities. Department of Higher Education staff also recommended $15.9 million for the National Lambda Rail/e-corridor and approximately $17 million for critical maintenance, equipment and libraries. Capital recommendations are available at www.arkansashighered.com/if/links/CapitalRecommendations.pdf.

“With an increase in enrollment of more than 25 percent over the past five years and several additional off-campus sites to serve rural Arkansans, the need for these additional funds is easily documented. In terms of constant dollars, 2004-05 funding was at the lowest level per full-time- equivalent student since 1979-80,” said Dr. Linda Beene, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. “Although there have been individual campus projects, the public higher education institutions have not received new statewide capital funds in over a decade.”

“The progress that Arkansas is making in improving the public school system is very commendable, but it is critically important that the State also maintain its commitment to higher education,” Dr. Beene explained.  "It would be a shame for the state to bring the public schools up to the desired level while letting the colleges and universities fall behind their peers in other states.  Such condition for Arkansas higher education would result in a loss of brightest students and faculty.  We must maintain quality institutions that will ensure an increasing number of our high school graduates stay in Arkansas to earn college degrees, work, and pay Arkansas taxes."

For more information about the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, visit www.arkansashighered.com or call (501) 371-2000.


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