Bill declares financial independence for all state universities

Bill declares financial independence for all state universities

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Rumored as Boise State’s “emancipation proclamation,” Bill 1320 doesn’t run true to this nickname. The bill, in fact, will create more liberties for all of Idaho’s state universities by giving them more economic flexibility, while remaining under the State Board of Education.

This bill was brought up two years ago, but as a Boise State bill. However, it didn’t make it far, because of the rumors that surrounded it.

The current worry and rumor of the bill has been that it is attempting to pull University of Idaho under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education, which it doesn’t do.

“University of Idaho will remain under the Board of Regents and we will remain under the State Board of Education. This bill, in any way shape or form, does not even discuss that,” said Bruce Newcomb, Boise State’s director of government relations.

Boise State is not trying to declare independence from the state board, but instead, request the ability to make their own choices on whether or not they may seek certain services from outside agencies rather than through the state. These services include human resources, construction and risk management.

Newcomb explained that when Boise State wants to construct a new building, they not only have to pay and accommodate for Boise State’s construction staff, but also for that of the state of Idaho, which they are required to have on site. Newcomb said the goal is to avoid a “duplication of effort” on projects such as this.

In order to get the bill passed, the university must provide evidence that this bill will save them money.

If the bill is passed and Boise State decides to discontinue the use of a state service, the state agency must be given notification 18 months prior to discontinuation. Any discontinuation cannot be put into effect until the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Newcomb assured that the state of Idaho would not be losing any money through this bill.

“Budgets may be reduced, but at the same time expenses would be reduced,” Newcomb said.

Getting the bill passed is a lengthy process.

“There are a lot of steps that you have to go through at the state level,” said Greg Hahn, associate vice president of Communications and Marketing. “This offers a little bit more freedom to say, ‘alright, in order to keep tuition down and to keep tax dollars down we’ll try to find some more ways to save costs.’”

This bill will take effect on all of Idaho’s state universities, but they will all remain independent on their decision making processes.

“Depending on the state board, each university can decide on their own. We wouldn’t all have to do the same thing,” Hahn said.

And even though the universities will have the opportunity not to use state services, they will still have to get these choices approved by the State Board of Education.

“These decisions are all still made by the state board, not us,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb is confident the bill will pass.

“I don’t think there’s anybody that could make a case for why this bill shouldn’t pass,” Newcomb said.

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