Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Krist harshly criticizes Governor Pete Ricketts’ budget cut proposals for the University of Nebraska.
“In my opinion, Gov. Ricketts is probably the worst governor in history with regard to higher education in the state,” Krist tells reporters during a news conference in Lincoln.
Krist claims Ricketts has targeted the University of Nebraska for extraordinary and devastating cuts which have led to steep tuition increases and program cuts at the four campuses.
“Gov. Ricketts has been the enemy of our University of Nebraska, the education flagship of our state and the economic engine that drives our workforce and economic development,” according to Krist.
Krist, a state senator from Omaha, says the University of Nebraska would have a higher priority in his administration if he defeats Ricketts in November.
Krist says the university should not have suffered the budget cuts enacted during the past two legislative sessions.
“Reasonably, I think just about half of what we were forced to do as a legislative process,” Krist answers when asked what the right level of budget cuts would be. “Maybe where we ended up with the legislative process is the right number. But it still created a tuition increase, which I think is putting an unfunded mandate down the road someplace on the kids, on the students, rather than handling it at the state level.”
Krist also charges the cuts are out-of-step with Nebraska families, which overwhelmingly support the four-campus university system.
Ricketts has stated the University of Nebraska must live within its means and has to bear the brunt of declining state revenues just as the rest of state government has to. Ricketts recommended a 4% cut to the University of Nebraska budget in the next fiscal year. State legislators reduced that to a 1% cut during the legislative session.
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved a $22 million cut from its operating budget to cope with the drop in state revenue. The four campuses have also approved an additional $6 million in cuts to various programs.
The total budget for the four campuses of the University of Nebraska is $2.6 billion, but that includes federal money and other monies which officials cannot adjust. The operating budget is approximately $960 million. State appropriations total nearly $570 million.
AUDIO: Democrat Bob Krist criticizes Gov. Pete Ricketts’ NU budget proposals [5 min.]