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House passes higher ed budget

The House has passed a higher education budget.

The House voted to separate the bill into two divisions - one division had to do with spending priorities in the bill.  The other dealt with employees of the State Board of Higher Education.  The bill proposed that auditors within the University system be moved to state offices, and that attorneys be moved to the Attorney General's Office.  Fargo Democratic Representative Josh Boschee said this move would put the State Board of Higher Education in a vulnerable position.

"We are entering into having four new State Board of Higher Education members in this new fiscal year, we will have a new Chancellor in this fiscal year, we will have a new Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs within this fiscal year, likely.  That's a lot of people involved with the policy of our State Board of Higher Education who will theoretically be entering into their new positions with very little expertise and legal counsel from their own internal counsel, whether it's the auditors or the attorneys.  These people, essentially, will be terminated.  The independent agency, the auditors office and the Attorney General's office will be hiring new people.  It may be some of those people, it may not be some of those people."

Osnabrock Republican Representative Dave Monson says that by moving the positions it gets rid of any conflicts of interest.

"How can an auditor audit his boss when he's sitting right next to him?  If he's auditing NDSU and he's answering to the President of NDSU, or he's auditing UND and he's sitting next to the President of UND - the answer is, he can't.  He can't do it right."

The House voted to pass that division of the bill.  The overall budget bill was passed on a vote of 69 to 23.

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