Members of the state Board of Higher Education aren’t happy with the budget guidelines Governor Burgum issued to state agencies, to help them prepare for the 2019-2021 biennium.
But the chairman of the board is urging some caution in making a response.
Burgum’s budget guidelines call for a 10 percent reduction in state spending for the colleges and universities – a $51 million reduction – plus an additional 3 percent as a contingency cut – another $15 million. That’s on top of the $106 million cut from higher-ed in the 2017 biennium.
"Ths time, it's really going to dig deep," said Board member Mike Ness. "It's going to take a lot of personnel out, or it's going to take major programs out of our system. I don't think we as a board should just accept that."
Board member Casey Ryan believes the Board should submit its own “needs based” budget proposal to the Legislature.
"I don't think we should just take it, that we have to start looking at how we downsize," Ryan said.
But board Chairman Don Morton said Burgum’s targets are guidelines – and this is just the first step in the budgeting process.
"Do we want to get into a public fight with the Governor?" Morton said. "I don't know if that serves any purpose."
Morton said he believes Burgum and his staff are open to higher-ed making its case.
"I understand we get heat from the faculty , that the state Board doesn't stand up for higher-ed," Morton said. "But there's some work we can do than can start to move the needle. And, at the appropriate time, if we have to be more public, we can certainly do that."
The University System is to have its budget recommendations to Burgum sometime in August.