Educators ask how state budget cuts will be divided among universities

Officials across Indiana are waiting to see how the loss of funding to state universities will be distributed since Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the budget cuts Friday.

Ray Montagno, associate dean of Research and Outreach at Ball State University, said in the 30 years he's been here, he has never had to deal with any potential loss that sounded this big.

"Indiana has always been pretty conservative in funding for higher education," Montagno said.

Distribution of funding loss hadn't been posted as part of the Higher Education Commission's December meeting agenda as of Monday afternoon.

Cynthia Baker, faculty representative and director of the Program on State Law and Government at IUPUI, said she's surprised the issue wasn't added to the agenda, which is available on the commission's Web site.

"In an ideal world, decisions will be made," she said.

The commission's monthly meeting will take place at IUPUI's Student Campus Center on Thursday and Friday. She said she hasn't seen the official agenda because it will be sent by federal mail.

"Higher education is a necessary part of the infrastructure of our state and to the solution to our economic woes," she said. "We will be mindful of these decisions to preserve excellence."

Baker suggests university representatives consider an average six percent cut from their operating budget. She said the three areas often affected by budget cuts are salaries and benefits, capital projects and academic programs.

"Nobody should have been caught off guard by this decision," she said.
Freshman Emily Strong said she's interested in knowing where funding will be cut at the university.

"It ticks me off," she said. "There's so many kids here that pay so much tuition. I can't justify all the money spent on roundabouts in Carmel if they don't have the money for schools and education."

Sophomore Drana Mlakic offered a couple solutions for Ball State to be more cost effective.

"Of course it's scary," she said. "It sucks we don't get all the benefits since we're paying so much in tuition. I think it would help if we were not buying so many electronics, if we were fixing things instead of upgrading to newer models."

Considering the country's economic crisis, sophomore Michael Bergmeyer said he accepts the fact that Ball State could see a significant loss of state funding.

"It's rough luck," he said. "It just sucks that it affects education."

• Governor Mitch Daniels announced a $150 million funding cut for state universities Dec. 4.
• This is in response to the state's revenue deficit.
• State university officials have 30 days since Dec. 4 to meet with the Higher Education Commission and determine how the loss of funding will be distributed.

Coming up
• Higher Education Commission's Strategic Directions Subcommittee will meet Dec. 10 and 11 at IUPUI's Student Campus Center Room 450.
• These meetings are open to the public.