Once again, our universities and the students, employers, and communities we serve are threatened.
As you know, the version of HB1 passed by the senate preserves the full funding of TOPS passed by the house AND maintains state funding to our universities at the 2016 – 17 level. It is by far the best budgetary outcome for higher education in nearly a decade.
While the budget in its current posture still leaves us dead last in resources per student among our SREB peers, and well behind our competitors in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama, it stems the bleeding. Our ability to develop talent, to conduct groundbreaking research, to retain world class faculty, and to prepare our students to compete in the 21st century economy depends upon an environment of fiscal stability. That environment is finally within our grasp, and I could not be more excited about the opportunities afforded us as a result, but…
A move appears to be afoot in the last day of budget negotiations to cut state investment in our enterprise by nearly $19 million. Even more troubling, the move is not to balance the budget; it is a safeguard in the event the revenue forecast isn’t realized. It is also a statement that higher education continues to be a low priority in a state that ranks 49th in educational attainment and 49th in resources per student.
We need your help. I do not believe the majority of your representatives are fully aware of the threat or its disproportionately negative impact on your communities. Your voice and the voices of your partners need to be heard. Please contact your legislators and provide them the information they need to make the right decision. Feel free to forward this message to others who may be interested.
As always, never hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
UL System President/CEO