"Over the past several months, I\'ve had the opportunity to talk with the governor, lieutenant governor, and state senators about the state’s financial situation and the role the University of Nebraska can play in growing the state’s economy. I understand the challenges that continue to face Nebraska, and given the current fiscal climate, I am pleased with the governor’s budget recommendations. It is gratifying that higher education is a priority for state investment. In a knowledge-based economy, the states that will thrive are those that invest in the development of human capital and potential. In my opinion, there has never been a more important time in Nebraska’s history to support higher education.
I am pleased the governor recommended funding a salary increase for NU employees, as well as some level of operational expenses, including health insurance, worker’s compensation, and utilities. No funds were recommended for our new initiatives. I understand that the governor is required to submit a budget proposal to the Nebraska Legislature based on the current revenue forecast, and I am hopeful that the state’s tax receipts will continue to exceed projections. If that occurs, I have been given every reason to be optimistic that some of the University’s other priorities may be addressed.
In particular, I am hopeful that the state will invest more in need-based financial aid in order to insure that all of Nebraska’s citizens have access to the benefits of higher education. I also believe the state has a compelling interest to help the University recruit and retain top faculty, which is why we are seeking funds to establish an endowed professorship program, and to attract more women and minority faculty. And we must continue to protect our capital assets by investing in our facilities and physical plant so we are able to support our ambitious agenda for the state.
There will be time to discuss these important priorities with the governor and the legislature in the coming months. For now, I am very pleased with what the governor has recommended for the University. I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Heineman and members of the Nebraska Legislature. I thank Governor Mike Johanns for his support of the University of Nebraska, and wish him great success in his new role as Secretary of Agriculture."