Leveraging his ability to forestall higher education appropriations, Noblesville State Senator and Budget Committee Chairman Luke Kenley says he’ll hold back $53 million from Indiana and Purdue Universities unless the schools agree not to raise their tuition.
Under state law, all building projects at a public university must be approved by the State Budget Committee, even if they are being privately funded. This year, the budget committee’s chairman is Kenley, who says plans by IU and Purdue to increase their tuition during a recession may lead to school building projects being struck from his committee’s Friday meeting agenda.
IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre says school leaders understand economic times are tough, which is why the university chose to raise tuition when the state flatlined higher education spending.
“In this budget cycle, over the next two years, we’re going to get the same amount as we got last year. But, after that, we’re looking at a six and a half percent cut in state funds,” MacIntyre said. “State revenues make up roughly one fourth of the IU budget so when you cut that much out of the budget, that’s a pretty heavy hit.”
IU trustees have approved a 4.6% tuition hike this year and a 4.8% increase next year in order to help pay for new buildings and increasing health care, payroll and utility costs.
MacIntyre says delaying the building projects would hurt the university.
“Well, we’re sort of at an impasse because some of those projects are ones that are sorely needed by students. A couple of them are needed by the athletics department, so it does cause us a problem,” he said.
Although MacIntyre says the university’s trustees will not reconsider their decision to increase tuition, nothing is absolute yet. IU officials have planned further talks with Kenley this week.