Board of Regents votes on budget reduction measures - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Board of Regents votes on budget reduction measures

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) - On Wednesday, Governor Chet Culver accepted or modified budget cut plans for 34 state agencies. It's all to deal with a $565 million budget shortfall.

He rejected two of the plans, saying he wants to meet with unions to see if they can avoid layoffs in the departments of corrections and public safety. Thursday, it was time for the five schools governed by the Iowa State Board of Regents to lay out their plans to cut 10% from their budgets.

The regents met today in Cedar Falls to hear the plans. The board heard from the three state schools on the difficult steps they're taking to meet the governor's 10% across-the-board cut.

The three state university presidents began their budget cut presentations by declining their yearly performance-based earnings. That will account for 15% of President Sally Mason's salary, 12% percent of President Gregory Geoffroy's, and 8% of president Ben Allen's.

David Miles, Board of Regents president, says he appreciates their initiative. "I think the institution heads have demonstrated, time and again throughout this difficult period, great leadership, and have been examples of sacrifice," said Miles. "I was delighted they were willing to do so again."

The student body presidents of each school had mixed feelings on the proposed $100 spring semester tuition surcharge, which the board narrowly approved in a 5 to 4 vote. Mike Currie, University of Iowa's Graduate student body president, put it in football terms.

"I don't support it the same way I support the Hawkeyes on Saturday, in terms of them going out and I can't wait and it'd be fantastic for it to be here. Believe me, I don't want to pay $100. I support them the way I support the Cyclones and the Panthers on Saturday; if they win, that's fine, it helps our BCS chances."

The University of Iowa plans to offer early retirements and make reductions in employee benefits to cut costs. But President Mason made it clear she wants to avoid permanent layoffs and salary reductions. Iowa State University says it will plan for temporary layoffs and furloughs, and partially close down its campus over the holiday season, in order to chop spending. The University of Northern Iowa also plans for temporary layoffs, and a temporary reduction in retirement benefit contributions - a measure the other two universities plan to employ.

Those measures, along with the tuition surcharge, will receive a final vote in December. The discussion on tuition and fee increases was tabled until then. The three universities are planning a core tuition increase of 6%, but each school's total rise in tuition cost will be different, because of special fees.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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