The South Dakota Board of Regents is requesting $14.5 million in state funding to prevent students from bearing the burden of rising education costs.
The BOR passed a proposal Aug. 9 that seeks additional support from the state government for the 2013-14 school year.
Governor Dennis Daugaard will review the request when he formulates his recommended state budget for the 2014 fiscal year. Daugaard’s budget, which will encompass funding for all state departments and entities, will be sent to the state legislature, and members will make adaptations and vote for approval.
Several priority items on the proposal include $2.8 million to cover inflation on operating costs and faculty salary costs and $2.3 million for the maintenance and repair of state university
BOR Executive Director Jack Warner said although the board is seeking $14.5 million, not all the items in the proposal are guaranteed to make it into the governor’s budget.
“My guess is that some of the items will go forward and some of the items will not,” Warner said.
Warner said financial conditions surrounding the state limited the board’s budget in recent years.
“In my first two years, the state had some pretty serious budget difficulties,” Warner said. “With the structural deficits, there were cuts being discussed and our budgets were a bit more modest. We were bracing ourselves to deal with some significant cuts that, ultimately, did happen.”
Warner said the board achieved reasonable success in obtaining funds for projects like the University of South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine expansion in the previous year’s budget. Last year, the BOR requested $8.6 million. The state exceeded the proposed amount and granted $12.3 million in funds to the BOR.
“We’re asking for a good deal of more money this time around and that’s reflective of a much better, optimistic budget climate in the state,” he said.
Besides the funds needed to cover faculty salary increases and university maintenance costs, Warner said several other items are outlined on the budget as high priority items.
“There is a Legislative Study Committee that is working on the performance-funding model,” Warner said. “We think it may be time to consider rewarding institutions for producing more graduates, producing more sponsored research and improving success rates with students.”
The potential performance-funding model would receive about $3 million of funding in the proposed budget.
Nearly $2 million is also being requested to create a cooperative doctoral program in physics at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and USD.
South Dakota is one of only two states that do not currently offer a doctoral program in physics.
USD first-year Molly Fox said she was glad to hear the BOR is making an effort to help students with the cost of higher education.
“It will help me so I can keep affording to go to school and it should help bring more people to college,” Fox said.
A final version of the state budget will likely be voted on by the legislature sometime in early spring and go into effect July 1, 2013.
Reach reporter Creighton Hoefer at [email protected]