C.L. "BUTCH" OTTER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2010
CONTACT: Jon Hanian
HIGHER EDUCATION STABILIZATION FUND SIGNED INTO LAW
(BOISE) – With Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter in Utah at a Republican Governors Association meeting, Lieutenant Governor Brad Little signed a bill into law today creating a special State fund to help buffer Idaho’s colleges and universities from future economic downturns.
“The Higher Education Stabilization Fund will help Idaho students and families by providing a financial safety net for our colleges and universities. We want to do what we can to prevent steep fee increases just when the people who need continuing education most can least afford it,” Lieutenant Governor Little said. “It also will help our economic competitiveness as a state by enabling us to keep pursuing innovative research, training highly qualified employees, and attracting and retaining employers to create career-path jobs.”
House Bill 544 redirects interest on revenue from tuition and fees at Idaho’s State colleges and universities to a new “strategic interest account” within the broader Higher Education Stabilization Fund created by the measure. That would include about $114,000 in interest earnings now available. The Legislature also now can appropriate money directly to the fund, when there is a surplus of revenue, and it would disburse money from the fund to the institutions – including community colleges – based on allocation practices used by the State Board of Education.
The legislation was sponsored by Governor Otter, House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke of Oakley and Senate Assistant Majority Leader Joe Stegner of Lewiston.
“It’s important for us to step up to the challenge of being more prepared the next time the economy hits the skids,” Representative Bedke said. “We are committed to protecting Idaho’s future, and that commitment doesn’t stop at high school graduation.”
“Places like Lewis-Clark State College, the University of Idaho, Boise State, Idaho State and our community colleges are struggling through this recession. More importantly, the people who want to improve their ability to weather an economic downturn are struggling as classes are cut and costs go up,” Senator Stegner said. “I’m hopeful that what we’re doing today will, in the future, spare us some of these kinds of difficult situations.”
“We would be in the same shape as many other states right now if past Legislatures hadn’t had the foresight to create the Public Education Stabilization Fund, the Budget Stabilization Account and other rainy day funds after previous budget crises,” the Lieutenant Governor said. “This bill applauds the past and prepares for the future, and it shows in a concrete way that we value our entire education system – K-12 and beyond.”