The state capitol building is full of luxurious rooms, few more so than room C310, the meeting place for the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC). However, the lavishness of the room stands in stark contrast to the real-world workings of the JFAC committee, where a strict budget and fiscal efficiency is paramount. This grand room was the setting for the opening act of the long, tedious and highly consequential process of navigating Boise State’s annual budget through the state legislature.
On Friday, Jan. 25, Boise State’s Interim President Martin Schimpf presented the university’s budget request to JFAC, where he spoke about the current state of the university, and most significantly, addressed change.
“Boise State continues to be in a race to keep pace with growing enrollment,” Schimpf said in testimony. “(Boise State) has really become a vibrant living and learning community campus that not that long ago would empty out on nights and weekends, but today it’s impossible to walk across the Boise State campus at just about any time of day, any day of the week without running into students.”
It’s no secret that Boise State has been growing rapidly, and the numbers speak to that fact. According to state budget documents, Boise State expenditures have increased by just over 6 percent the last two years in a row, amounting to tens of millions of dollars in spending increases. These numbers represent the complications of the rapid growth that the university has seen in recent years, and serve to illustrate the tightrope the school must walk to balance spending increases with serving student needs.
Included among the requested budget changes is the funding of the Enrollment Workload Adjustment (EWA)—a model that increases funding based on the number of credit-hours taken at the university—as well as funding for renovations and improvements within facilities across campus and an increase in scholarship funds.
It is also important to note that the university is not the only player in the budgeting game. Every line item on the budget documents include both a request from Boise State and a recommendation from Governor Brad Little, and this connection invariably links the university to the Governor’s other priorities for which the state must appropriate funds.
“Over the next few weeks we will continue to articulate the critical nature of those EWA funds, the context and need behind occupancy costs, and our support for an increase in scholarship funds,” Roger Brown, Boise State director of government and community relations, wrote in an email. “I am cautiously optimistic that Governor Little struck the right notes on the higher education budget—balancing his other priorities, our immediate needs, and the higher profile issues before them currently.”
The successful passage of the proposed budget would allow the university to manage its growth, finish it’s facilities projects and provide more students with the opportunity to attend the university. In short, it would allow Boise State to carry on treasuring the past and shaping the future—at least for another year.