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IHL Commissioner Asks For Stable Budgets

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 19 Sep 2011 07:23pm | comments
IHL Commissioner Hank Bounds

The head of the Institutions of Higher Learning is asking the Joint Legislative budget Committee to avoid cutting the budget to the state's eight public universities. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that university leaders are worried about more budget cuts from the state and federal level.

On Monday, the Institutions of Higher Learning Commissioner Hanks Bounds asked the 14-member Joint Legislative Budget Committee  to the preserve higher education spending because colleges have been doing more with less for years.

"Right now, we receive about $1,000 less per student than we did in the year 2000. So in every measure, I think that is a sign of the good work that is happening on our campuses," Bounds said.

Bounds says the schools are suffering from the loss of federal earmarks and stimulus dollars are phasing out as well as concerns about the future of research dollars and Pell grants.

Enrollment, graduation rates, and tuition rates are all up but the percentage of support from tax payers is down....the state spent 763-million on higher education in the 2012 budget.

Mississippi State President Mark Keenum says he is concerned that more cuts could harm their ability to educate students.

"Unfortunately that takes money. We have seen state support for all institutions of higher learning go down significantly. I have been at Mississippi State for three budget cycles and in each of those three budget cycles our budget has been cut," Keenum said.

Commissioner Bounds told the committee that the state's universities are trying to graduate more students in four years because it saves the colleges money and gets young adults into the workforce.

University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones says more state budget cuts could cause more college students to drag out their time at school.

"I think that all of us in high ed need to be expecting that we are going to be held accountable for improving graduation rates. It is what is going to make our economy get better," Jones said.

The committee will continue to hear presentations from agency heads all week as part of early efforts to craft a budget recommendation for the next state legislature.

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IHL Commissioner Hank Bounds


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