U of I, Lewis-Clark Presidents Warn Lawmakers of Financial Consequences

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In the wake of last week's hand-wringing over funding for Idaho's K-12 public education, leaders of higher-learning institutions went with hat in hand this morning to Idaho lawmakers.

"We've taken a 22 percent cut from our base budget in the last couple of years," said Duane Nellis, president of the University of Idaho. "We've been trying to be good, to cooperate. But I think we're on the margin of long-term negative impacts in our effort to serve this state."

Nellis spoke of job cuts and hiring freezes, but he said the most tangible need may be the U of I's buildings.

"We just had a water pipe break in one of our residence halls," said Nellis. "And just before that, we had another pipe break on a floor above our computer lab."

Earlier Monday, Lewis-Clark State College President Tony Fernandez told the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee that he was most concerned with keeping key faculty.

"Our salaries don't compare with our educational peers," said Fernandez. "Faculty and staff retention may be impacted if we continue to have years without merit increases."

Boise State President Bob Kustra is expected to address JFAC later this week.