In November I wrote to you about Nebraska’s fiscal challenges and the steps we were taking to prepare for budget reductions. Thank you for your commitment to fiscal restraint. Times of uncertainty are not easy, but slowing our spending has been the right approach as we monitor the state’s financial situation.
As we anticipated, we are facing a cut to our budget in the current fiscal year. Today Governor Ricketts proposed a $13 million reduction in state funding to the university for 2016-17. His proposal goes to the Appropriations Committee and full Legislature for consideration.
“For many years state leaders have supported an excellent, affordable public university. I am confident that together we will identify responsible and forward-thinking solutions for our state.”
While no cut is easy, our early prudence will help us manage this challenge. We will know more about our long-term budget planning as the legislative session goes along and policymakers craft a budget for 2017-19. That process starts with the Governor’s State of the State address next week, when he will announce his biennial budget proposals.
Given the state’s fiscal uncertainties, we likely have further challenges ahead. I have pledged to the Governor and Legislature that we will be a partner in navigating the current downturn – although we will also take every opportunity we can to advocate for fair and equitable treatment in the budget process, share stories of your good work, and remind all Nebraskans that the university is the state’s most important driver of economic growth and social well-being.
In dollars alone, our impact is $3.9 billion annually – a 6-to-1 return on Nebraskans’ investment in their university. Of course, that figure says nothing of what you do daily to provide life-saving medical care, conduct transformative research, improve the quality of life in all 93 counties, and transform the lives of tens of thousands of young people who are Nebraska’s future farmers and ranchers, teachers, nurses and entrepreneurs.
I know those stories resonate with state leaders. That’s why they have for many years supported an excellent, affordable public university. I will ask them, as they have in the past, to make choices that maintain Nebraska’s long-term momentum and competitiveness. I am confident that together we will identify responsible and forward-thinking solutions for our state.
I will write to you whenever there are new developments with our budget planning. We have also created a webpage here where we will post new information as it becomes available. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of students and our state.
Hank M. Bounds, Ph.D.
President, University of Nebraska