The state Board of Regents decided Thursday to ask the governor and the Legislature for $22.5 million of additional state general funding for South Dakota’s system of public universities and specialty schools.
The request doesn’t include any money for salary increase, but the regents by consensus put raises at the top of the list. State government employees in South Dakota haven’t received annual raises in three years.
“We all know this is subject to change because our priority is salary policy,” said regent Terry Baloun of Highmore about the $22 million.
Nearly half of the increase would restore $10.6 million that the regents previously received in state general funding. The $10.6 million was cut by the Legislature and temporarily replaced by federal stimulus money.
The regents held a two-day public retreat before the board’s regular meeting Thursday. They formed the budget request during the retreat discussions and spent just a few minutes Thursday afternoon formally adopting the request.
The regents published two documents on their official website regarding the meeting schedule, but neither fully detailed their plans.
One agenda listed three days of meetings, but didn’t list any specific items for action at the formal meeting. The agenda for the formal meeting covered only Thursday and didn’t make any reference to the two retreat days.
The agenda listing three days didn’t mention the budget request. The budget request was listed among the specific items on the separate Thursday-only agenda.
“That’s what we did for the last two days, work on these items,” said regent Harvey Jewett of Aberdeen.
One major new budget request is $2.4 million to start a doctorate program in physics.
South Dakota is one of two states without a doctoral degree in physics. The program would work in conjunction with the underground laboratory at Lead.
The regents’ request for additional funding also includes:
• $2 million in one-time funding for programs at the universities to help track students’ academic performance.
• $2 million in one-time funding for research grants.
• Nearly $340,000 for the specialty classes offered to high schools from Northern State University using distance technology.
• Nearly $5.2 million for health care work force development.
Last winter, the Legislature cut general state funding for the regents by $17.5 million for the 2012 budget that began July 1. The cut was part of the broader reductions made to balance state government’s budget.
The regents, in turn, raised tuition and fees by an estimated $9 million and imposed $8.5 million of cuts at campuses for this year.
Jewett said the regents have taken $27 million of general cuts in the past three years.