- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Board of Regents is requesting a significant funding boost for the state’s public universities despite the possibility of budget cuts.

The board is asking for a 2 percent increase in state funding for the 2017-2018 academic year, the Press-Citizen (https://icp-c.com/2iLKRBp ) reported. The regents have said that if they receive that funding, they would hold resident undergraduate tuition increases to only 2 percent for the next two years.

The regents are asking for about a $12.7 million funding increase from last year, which would help the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

“We recognize the revenue shortfall that will affect this fiscal year, but are hopeful that for FY18 revenue will rebound,” regents spokesman Josh Lehman said in an email Thursday.

Regent officials are waiting to hear from the governor’s office on how much and where the state will make budget cuts. There is also the expectation that lawmakers will have limited revenue to work with in the upcoming legislative session, with Gov. Terry Branstad expected to announce next week a $100 million cut in state spending.

“Most areas of the government will be affected,” Republican Rep. Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton said. “The regents should be prepared. … The forecasts are looking more positive for next year, but it’s going to be a challenge to get to 2 percent.”

Democratic Sen. Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls said he thinks it would be possible to fulfill the regents’ request.

“I think in a $7.4 billion budget, we can find a couple million for our regent universities,” he said. “It’s certainly doable.”

While Branstad has excluded K-12 schools, property tax credits and Medicaid from areas that could face spending cuts, he has not taken higher education off the table.

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/

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