2014 Legislative Updates
Education budget goes to conference committee
April 18, 2014
The Iowa House on Tuesday approved the Education Appropriations bill. Majority Republicans amended SF2347 to provide less money for the University of Iowa and additional funding for ISU’s Ag Experiment station. But we are grateful the bill maintains the $4.4 million special appropriation for UNI. While the percentage increase for three universities does not reflect the Board’s original request, the House voted to mandate the Board of Regents freeze tuition in the fall. Here’s how the two bills compare.
House Education Budget:
• 4% increase for UNI, ISU, and the special schools
• 2% increase for SUI
• $4.4 million for UNI
• $2.5 million for ISU Ag Experiment Station
Senate Education Budget:
• 4% increase for each of the universities and the special schools
• $4.4 million for UNI
• $520,000 for the ISU Ag Experiment Station
SF2347 has now been sent to conference committee. The members include:
Cecil Dolecheck (R) Mounty Ayr Jake Highfill (R) Johnston
Sharon Steckman (D) Mason City Rob Taylor (R) West Des Moines
Cindy Winckler (D) Davenport
Brian Schoenjahn (D) Arlington Wally Horn (D) Cedar Rapids
Herman Quirmbach (D) Ames Amy Sinclair (R) Allerton
Nancy Boettger (R) Harlan
Please contact these legislators and thank them for supporting UNI and urge them to include our special appropriation in the final compromise.
Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations
The House on Tuesday also approved SF2349. Like the Senate, the House provided only the first year funding for the next round of Regent capital projects; $2 million each for Pharmacy at SUI, Biosciences at ISU, and Schindler at UNI. We had hoped the House would include to the necessary funding in the subsequent years to finish the projects because we know the Governor will likely insist on multi-year funding in order to support the projects. The bill has now been assigned to conference committee. The members include:
Dan Huseman (R) Aurelia Dennis Cohoon (R) Burlington
Nancy Dunkel (D) Dyersville John Landon (R) Ankeny
David Maxwell (R) Gibson
Matt McCoy (D) Des Moines Daryl Beall (D) Fort Dodge
Tod Bowman (D) Maquoketa Tim Kapucian (R) Keystone
Bill Anderson (R) Pierson
Please contact these legislators and thank them for including the renovation of the Schindler Education Center in the legislation and ask them to fully fund the project.
Education budget gets complicated
April 14, 2014
The Iowa Senate approved the Education Appropriations bill last week. It follows the governor’s recommendation for all three institutions.
Senate Education Budget:
The House is now expected to debate the bill this week. But majority Republicans have a proposed an amendment that alters funding for the Regents institutions. It maintains the recommended funding for UNI but provides a smaller increase than the Governor proposed for the University of Iowa.
House Education Budget:
The House also spends nearly $2 million more on Iowa State’s Ag Experiment Station than the Senate budget. These differences will have to be worked out in a final compromise. This means UNI’s funding is still in jeopardy and our supporters must continue to advocate on our behalf.
Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations
The Senate last week also approved the Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals budget. The bill includes the first year funding for the next round of Regent capital projects, including $2 million for the planning phase of renovating the Schindler Education Center. Our only concern is the bill does not include funding in the subsequent years to finish the project. The Governor will likely insist on multi-year funding in order to support the projects. This will hopefully be resolved before the legislature adjourns.
Gov. Branstad signed Senate File 2319 into law. It is intended to improving student literacy skills, including addressing dyslexia, and providing teacher assistance.
In the limelight
University of Northern Iowa Cadet Capt. Mark R. Wieneke was one of only nine students to receive the Governor's Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Award for outstanding achievement this year. The annual awards "honor the men and women for leadership, academics and military achievement."
Wieneke grew up in Ankeny and previously served in the Iowa National Guard 133rd Infantry Regiment in Waterloo and with the 133rd A Company in Dubuque. He is currently a biology major at UNI with an impressive 3.54 GPA. After graduation he plans to commission in the Iowa National Guard as an infantry officer and attend optometry school.
Highlighting Student Research
April 4, 2014
The Senate Education Appropriations bill cleared another hurdle this week; it was adopted by the Senate Appropriations committee on a party line vote. The full Senate is expected to debate the bill next week.
Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals
The Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved their version of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals budget bill. The bill includes the first year funding for renovation of the Schindler Education Center at $2 million.
Senate File 2271 (MHEC Sara bill) was signed by the Governor. It allows the College Student Aid Commission to join an interstate reciprocity agreement in order to register and collect fees from colleges and universities, public or private that want to provide distance education in Iowa. This is intended to make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines, as well as making it easier for states to regulate participating institutions. The bill was drafted in cooperation with the Attorney General’s office to ensure proper consumer protections.
In the Limelight
Tuesday was the 9th annual Research in the Capitol day where undergraduate students from Iowa’s three public universities present their research through poster boards at the Statehouse. More than 20 UNI students participated, drawing legislators into engaging conversations about their studies.
April 1, 2014
The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met recently and continues to forecast a 4.5 percent increase in state revenue for FY15. This is the same forecast they issued in December, which means the legislature will not have to revise the budget targets they announced earlier this month.
The Senate Education Appropriations Committee has approved a budget that follows the governor’s recommendation for UNI. It includes:
The House and Senate Appropriation Subcommittees passed the economic development budget bill HSB 683. Both the House and Senate agree to the bill so we do not expect to see changes in funding. Full House debate should occur this week. It includes:
The House voted unanimously to approve SF2124 (the MHEC Sara bill), which allows the College Student Aid Commission to join an interstate reciprocity agreement in order to register and collect fees from colleges and universities, public or private, that want to provide distance education in Iowa. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.
The House also voted 93 to 1 to approve SF2319 dealing with professional development for teachers to improve literacy, including serving children with dyslexia. The bill, having already been approved by the Senate, also goes to the governor for his signature.
The Senate voted along party lines to approve SF 2318, a bill relating to school anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies. It establishes an office of support and analysis for safe schools, a school climate improvement grant program, and provides for training on harassment and bullying prevention and response. The House prefers the governor’s bill, HF2409, and the two chambers are working to find a compromise before the end of session.
The House Ways and Means Committee is considering HSB673. The bill would create a student loan tax credit available against the state individual income tax. The tax credit would equal 50 percent of the amount paid on a qualified student loan by a qualified taxpayer during a tax year, not to exceed 20 percent of the average resident undergraduate tuition at the Regent universities. The committee is now waiting on a fiscal note.
An update on HF2429 formerly HSB592 - This was the House bill approved as a compromise on the common core standards, assessments, curricula and student data collection. This bill failed to advance in the Senate and therefore died in the second funnel.
Regents Day at the Statehouse
April 1, 2014
About 50 students from the three universities attended Regents Day at the Capitol. They held news conference thanking the legislature for last year’s tuition freeze and asked them to provide the necessary funding to freeze tuition again this year. They also met with legislative leaders and the governor’s office. UNI students did an excellent job making the case for increased funding to address UNI’s reliance on in-state tuition.
Advocating for UNI
March 14, 2014
The Iowa Legislature is beginning the difficult task of formulating and approving a budget. Because House and Senate leaders have committed to spending only 90 percent of available state revenue, there will be intense negotiations over how to prioritize those resources. We need to make sure UNI is a top priority.
Please consider attending a legislative forum this weekend to advocate on UNI’s behalf. There is one in Cedar Falls this Saturday, March 15, beginning at 10 a.m. (coffee at 9:30) at the Area Education Agency 267 Conference Center, 3712 Cedar Heights Drive.
If you live outside of Cedar Falls you can find a list of community forums at these websites.
If you are unable to attend, please consider calling or emailing your local legislators.
To find your local Senator or Representative: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators
Iowa House switchboard: 515-281-3221
Iowa Senate switchboard: 515-281-3371
We are Iowa’s university.
UNI’s historic focus on educating Iowans means a tuition freeze at the public universities has a disproportionate impact on our campus.
That’s why the Board of Regents requested additional support for UNI this year and why it’s so critical the legislature approve the $4M special appropriation in the Governor’s budget.
UNI prides itself on offering personalized education with small class sizes taught by professors, not teaching assistants. That’s what we’re eroding when we don’t adequately fund UNI.
Budget Targets unveiled
March 14, 2014
The Iowa General Assembly has finally released joint legislative budget targets. The proposed targets were agreed upon by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and House Speaker Kraig Paulsen. They are intended expedite the budget process and thereby end the legislative session early.
The total legislative budget target is $7.7 billion, approximately $30 million less than what the Governor proposed and spends only 90 percent of available revenue.
These are targets for each committee chair and I'm hearing mixed reports of how much flexibility they have within their committee to negotiate. We are fortunate the governor’s office continues to remain steadfast in demanding both the four percent increase necessary to freeze tuition and the $4M base increase for UNI.
The Senate voted unanimously to approve SF2319 dealing with professional development for teachers to improve literacy, including serving children with dyslexia. While our teacher preparation programs have largely responded that adding the definition of dyslexia is duplicative and possibly restrictive, this change is important to a group of families with children struggling with reading and the legislature wanted to be responsive.
The Senate voted unanimously to approve SF2124 (the MHEC Sara bill), which allows the College Student Aid Commission to join an interstate reciprocity agreement in order to register and collect fees from colleges and universities, public or private, that want to provide distance education in Iowa. This is intended to make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines, as well as making it easier for states to regulate participating institutions. The bill was drafted in cooperation with the Attorney General’s office to ensure proper consumer protections.
Legislation excluding Iowa from the Common Core and pulling out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium failed to move forward. The House Education committee instead approved HSB592 which also deals with core content standards, assessments, curricula, and student data collection. This bill just came out so we will need to compile feedback from the institutions.
HSB580 also failed to make it past the funnel deadline. Instead the Governor’s office has established a Computer Science/Mathematics Task Force to discuss the issue. The legislation would have allowed a high school student to substitute an advanced placement computer science course for a mathematics or science course. The Board of Regents office expressed concerns about this legislation because it may have placed students out of compliance with the Regents Admission Index. The task force will be led by the STEM Advisory Council’s Executive Director Jeff Weld (a UNI professor). The Board of Regents Chief Academic Officer Diana Gonzales will also serve.
Other notable legislation:
HF 2289- the prohibition on unmanned aerial vehicles bill was amended significantly in the Senate and no longer includes provisions that would prohibit the purchase or use of UAVs for educational or research purposes on our campuses. The bill will return to the House for final consideration.
HF2424- the Urban Ag Academy bill, encouraging the Board of Regents to host an annual conference relating to urban and rural agriculture, was eliminated in the funnel. The potential remains for the bill to make a comeback up in the form of an amendment on the agriculture and natural resources budget bill.
From the UNI-Dome to the Golden Dome
March 14, 2014
President Ruud hosted UNI day at the Statehouse on Monday, Feb. 24. More than 45 legislators, the lieutenant governor and Congressman Loebsack toured the displays while interacting with faculty, staff, students and alumni. About a dozen legislators also attended an evening reception hosted by the Alumni Association. Thank you to all of those who participated and made this event a success.
February 21, 2014
This was an extremely busy week at the Statehouse as funnel week came a day early for many committees when the Iowa House decided to go home a day early due to the weather. The self-imposed deadline whittled down the list of bills the legislature will consider this session.
We had hoped and expected to see budget targets this week but agreement continues to elude House and Senate leaders. Some of the disagreement stems from how much funding to provide for both the Regents institutions and the community colleges.
There was significant progress on SF2124 (the MHEC Sara bill). Executive Director Bob Donley met with the Attorney General’s office to hammer out an agreement on language that should allow us to move forward with the interstate reciprocity agreement while maintaining the state’s strong student consumer protections. The bill then moved out of the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. The House in turn approved the companion bill HF2311.
The House and Senate Education Committees also adopted legislation dealing with professional development for teachers to improve literacy. Both bills, HF2334 and SF2070, require assistance for dyslexia and provide a definition.
Legislation excluding Iowa from the Common Core and pulling out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium failed to move forward. The House Education Committee instead approved HSB592, which also deals with core content standards, assessments, curricula and student data collection.
HF 2224, which requires reporting on educational credit veterans receive from the universities, passed out of the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Monday, Feb. 24, UNI students, faculty and staff will travel to the Iowa Capitol to host UNI Day in the rotunda of the Statehouse from 1 to 3 p.m. This is a great opportunity to learn about the wonderful academic programs UNI has to offer, our cutting-edge research and amazing student organizations. Meet President Bill Ruud, take pictures with our mascot TC and hear a performance by a jazz trio representing UNI's School of Music.
This is also the perfect time for alumni to reconnect with their alma mater and advocate on our behalf. Let’s remind legislators that 91 percent of our students are from Iowa, and 10 years after graduation, 75 percent are still living in Iowa. And while a tuition freeze is great for our students and their families, it impacts UNI’s budget more severely than our sister institutions. Our reliance on in-state tuition and state appropriations means additional funding for UNI is critical this year.
Let your voice be heard! If you can’t join us in person on Monday, please contact your local senator or representative and remind them about the unique and valuable role UNI plays in Iowa.
UNI Faculty speak at the Capitol
February 17, 2014
Last week was extremely positive for UNI with multiple presentations at the Statehouse featuring university faculty and administrators.
UNI literacy professor Deb Tidwell was part of a panel before the Senate Education Committee on SF 2070 dealing with dyslexia. She urged the committee to stick to research-proven reading curriculum and warned against narrowly prescriptive teacher preparation that may not serve a broad spectrum of reading deficiencies.
Also on Wednesday, Dan Nickey, the associate director of the Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) at UNI, presented before the House Natural Resources Committee regarding the IWRC’s work to reduce food waste in Iowa. He warned lawmakers that food waste in Iowa has increased 62 percent over 13 years, but said it’s an issue that can be tackled through more awareness, education and waste reduction programs. The Mason City Globe Gazette featured a story on Nickey’s presentation.
President Ruud appeared before the Education Appropriations Committee. He reminded legislators 91 percent of UNI students are from Iowa and 75 percent are still in Iowa 10 years later. He also advocated for additional funding for UNI considering our heavy dependence on in-state tuition and state appropriations. Questions from the committee members allowed Ruud to share some positive stories about student debt, veteran services, ROTC and fundraising.
Also on Thursday, Michael Hager, UNI’s vice president of Business and Finance, along with Dwight Watson, dean of the College of Education, presented our capitol request to the Transportation and Infrastructure Appropriations Committee. They outlined how renovating the Schindler Education Center will improve student learning, faculty and student collaboration, heating and cooling, and working conditions.
And finally, Thursday was STEM Day at the Capitol. President Ruud enjoyed meeting and recruiting high school students from around the state, learning about UNI’s STEM ambassadors and connecting with legislators.
There continues to be subcommittee meetings prior to the first funnel deadline next week. The most notable meetings last week were on HSB 619/ SF 2124 (the MHEC SARA bill), which would allow interstate reciprocity agreements for online higher education, and HSB615, which would require us to report to the governor and the general assembly various statistics on veteran enrollment and credits awarded for service.
In confirmation news
On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to recommend confirmation of Regents Dakovich and McKibben. This is the first hurdle in the confirmation process and portends smooth sailing during the full Senate vote later this session.
We expect the House and Senate to announce joint budget targets sometime this week. We hope that this news is accompanied by a commitment to fund the 4 percent increase necessary to freeze tuition.
February 7, 2014
This week Regents Milt Dakovich and Larry McKibben testified before the Senate Education Committee as part of the confirmation process. Both received strong support and are expected to be confirmed by a significant margin later this session.
The majority of the work now is in subcommittees as legislators work through policy bills before the first funnel deadline in two weeks. Subcommittees are often announced without much notice, so it is important for UNI faculty and staff to submit comments to me in a timely fashion so I can share any concerns or request amendments early in the legislative process.
Notable subcommittees this week included:
HSB 534 An Act relating to the National Guard Educational Assistance Program by removing residency requirements, and providing for the non-reversion of certain funds, and including effective date provisions.
SF 2070 An Act relating to the definition of dyslexia, screening for dyslexia, and professional development opportunities and requirements and endorsement for instruction on reading disabilities including dyslexia. (Includes requirements for all teacher preparation programs)
SSB 3149 A study bill for an act relating to state and school anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies, establishing an office of harassment and bullying prevention and response, establishing a school climate improvement grant program, providing training on harassment and bullying prevention and response and making appropriations. (Includes language directing the Regents institution to include training in teacher preparation programs)
Other notable legislation:
HF 2153 An Act directing the state Board of Regents and the Department of Education to convene a commission to study financing strategies for the state’s public postsecondary institutions.
HSB 615 An Act requiring reporting on certain educational credits awarded to veterans.
HSB 619 An Act relating to the duties and authority of the College Student Aid Commission relating to the registration of certain postsecondary schools, to interstate reciprocity agreements and to registration fees collected by the commission.
Next week UNI will participate in several presentations at the Statehouse.
On Wednesday Feb. 12, UNI Professor Deb Tidwell will present before the Senate Education Committee on literacy as it relates to teacher preparation and SF 2070.
Also on Wednesday, Dan Nickey, the Associate Director of UNI’s Iowa Waste Reduction Center will present before the House Natural Resources committee regarding the IWRC’s work to reduce food waste in Iowa.
On Thursday Feb. 13 UNI President Bill Ruud will present our budget request to the Education Appropriations Committee. At the same time Michael Hager, vice president of Business and Finance, and Dwight Watson, dean of the College of Education, will testify before the Transportation and Infrastructure Appropriations Committee about our capital request –the renovation of the Schindler Education Center.
Economic Development Presentation
February 7, 2014
Members of UNI’s Business and Community Services team traveled to the Statehouse to present our economic development budget request to a subcommittee co-chaired by Senator Bill Dotzler, a democrat from Waterloo and proud UNI graduate. The presentation focused in part on Advance Iowa: Iowa’s Economic Gardening Program which is led by UNI. It focuses on growing existing mid-sized Iowa firms (10-100 employees) using tools and resources that these firms would not be able to access otherwise; including custom research, new media/E-commerce analysis, competitive intelligence, sales leads and market/industry research.
Left to right: Dan Beenken, UNI’s Business Incubation Manager and the Program Director of Advance Iowa: Iowa’s Economic Gardening Program; Anita Messerschmidt, CEO, Embark IT ; Randy Pilkington, Executive Director of UNI’s Business and Community Services
The presentation also included testimony for the Director of UNI’s Metal Casting Center, Jerry Thiel who focused on rapid casting technology featuring our new 3D printer. Since the printer was installed on September 27th,our Metal Castings Center has worked with 20 private industry companies, 4 universities and 5 state and federal organizations.
Senator Jeff Danielson (D) Cedar Falls enjoys a demonstration of UNI’s 3D printer
Governor Terry Branstad at a recent printer demonstration
UNI veterans at the Statehouse
January 31, 2014
The University of Northern Iowa had the distinct honor of presenting before the House Veterans Affairs committee. We were asked to testify about the work we are doing to both educate and provide jobs for returning veterans. We currently have 268 students at UNI who are receiving military benefits and another 114 veterans who are employed by the University with 13 veterans having been hired in 2013 alone. Terry Hogan, Vice President for Student Affairs at UNI, introduced the panel and provided brief remarks.
“As a growing number of veterans return home and begin to pursue higher education, we realize that we have a special obligation to help them to succeed. We began our efforts in earnest in 2009 when we launched a campus wide task force to assess the needs of veterans and plan services that would be responsive. A key milepost in this entire process was the hiring of a coordinator who would devote full, professional attention to the effort. “
(Left to right) Dr. Terry Hogan, Jeremy Rosel, Alex Mackey, Julia Heuer, and State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic (D) Waterloo
Julia Heuer serves as coordinator of Military and Veteran Student Services at UNI. Heuer served four years of active duty in the United States Army. She was recently named by Governor Branstad to the working group that will help implement the Home Base Iowa initiative to recruit veterans to Iowa and match them with available jobs. She provided the committee with a great overview of the services UNI now offers veteran students; including a veteran’s student center conveniently located in Mauker Union and a website that serves as a single source of information for prospective and current military/veteran students at www.uni.edu/military.
“We support military members, veterans, and their families as they transition between military duty, college, and new careers. We are committed to faculty and staff education, on and off campus resource networking, advocacy, and listening to each student to ensure that each military-affiliated students’ voice is heard and they are supported in achieving success in class and beyond.“
(Left to right) Jeremy Rosel, Alex Mackey, State Representative Sandy Salmon (R) Janesville, State Representative Stan Gustafson (R) Cumming, Julia Heuer
Dr. Hogan and Ms. Heuer were joined at the Statehouse by Alex Mackey and Jeremy Rosel. Mackey is a leader within our UNI Veterans Association (UNIVA) and a senior political science major from Ft Dodge. He served over four years in the Marines. Rosel is a senior history major from Clear Lake, Iowa. He served 5 years active duty as a Navy corpsman with the Marines and has also been an active leader in our campus and within the UNIVA. They provided powerful testimony about how the UNIVA helped them feel more connected to campus support their transition to civilian life.
Condition of the State Speech
January 31, 2014
UNI students enjoyed special access to the Governor’s Condition of the State speech this year at the Iowa Capitol. The Governor invited students from each of the three public universities to attend in order to highlight his support for another tuition freeze this fall. If the necessary funding is approved by the legislature, it will be the first back to back tuition freeze for resident undergraduate students in 30 years. Thank you to the UNI students who traveled to Des Moines for the speech and a thank you to KaLeigh White for helping to organize the trip.
Front row (Left to right): Victoria Hurst, Johnale Jackson, Christian Sather, Clarine Ford, Katie Schura, Stef McGraw Back row (Left to right): Katie Evans, Lauren Dietz, DeMarco Lowery, Tom Madsen, Michael Kelly.
Budget Message from President Ruud
January 15, 2014
Dear UNI Family,
We are grateful to the governor for recognizing the unique funding challenges at UNI resulting from our historic focus on educating Iowa residents. Under this proposal, FY2015 funding for UNI would be $90.9 million, an increase of nearly $2 million over the current budget year. This is enough to allow the Board of Regents to once again freeze tuition for resident undergraduate students, which make up more than 90 percent of our student body.
This is a very positive start to the legislative session and we are thankful for Gov. Branstad’s continued commitment to the public universities. Our focus now turns to the house and senate, as leaders in each chamber will release their own budget proposals later this month.
2014 Legislative Session Preview
January 13, 2014
The Iowa General Assembly convenes today and recent news reports show there’s reason to be optimistic about the outcome. Gov. Terry Branstad, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal have all spoken publicly about their support for another tuition freeze.
The Iowa Board of Regents proposed the second tuition freeze in September, marking the first two-year tuition freeze for resident undergraduate students in 30 years. This is particularly important to UNI undergraduates when you consider:
The tuition freeze is predicated on receiving additional funding from the legislature and the governor. That’s important because UNI is more reliant on state appropriations since we collect significantly less revenue from out-of state tuition. The Board of Regents request includes:
UNI’s budget request also includes an incremental funding increase of 3.2 percent for the following programs:
UNI – Real Estate Education...................................................$129,312
UNI – Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center ...........$180,864
UNI – Economic Development………..$1,100,544
Skilled Worker Innovation Fund……………………………$928,800
UNI’s Strategic Initiatives request includes:
Establishing a Bachelor of Applied Sciences ........................... $3M (over two years)
With an initial cohort of 160 community college graduates, this degree program will serve the needs of working and place-bound Iowans in both rural and urban communities, enhance community college partnerships, and strengthen skills available to business and industry within the state.
Entrepreneur Outreach Program .....................................................................$1.5M
Services will be provided to entrepreneurs in all regions of Iowa and will also expand the culture of entrepreneurship on the UNI campus by serving students and faculty.
Governor’s STEM Advisory Council Initiative.......................... $5.2M
Our Capital Projects Request:
Schindler Education Center Renovation………………………..$3M
(1st of 4-year request; total project is $31.6M)
If you have any questions about our budget request or the legislative process, feel free to email me at email@example.com. I also encourage you to sign up for Panther Caucus on UNI’s Alumni Association webpage and to contact your local Senator or Representative.