Talk of state-school tuition freeze heats up in Nebraska Legislature - Omaha.com
Published Friday, April 5, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 3:30 am
Talk of state-school tuition freeze heats up in Nebraska Legislature

LINCOLN – Tuition freezes could be back on the table for students at the University of Nebraska and state colleges.

The Legislature's Appropriations Committee tentatively approved higher education budget increases this week that are large enough to make the two-year freeze possible.

The funding would be less than Gov. Dave Heineman had included in his budget, but more than committee members had included in their preliminary budget plan.

State Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha, the committee chairman, said members worked to find additional funds and to negotiate with higher education leaders.

“The tuition freeze and affordability compact was a priority of the committee,” he said.

NU President J.B. Milliken said the level of support will allow the university to hold the line on tuition for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

“This is a very positive step and welcomed by thousands of Nebraska students and their families,” he said.

Milliken and state college leaders reached agreement with Heineman early this year to forgo tuition increases for in-state students for two school years in exchange for a higher-than-average funding increase.

The funding level included in the Appropriations Committee's preliminary budget had appeared to put the agreement in jeopardy.

Mello said at the time that he expected the committee would revisit the higher education funding after budget hearings. During the hearings, students and higher education officials pleaded for more funding.

On Wednesday, the committee approved 4 percent budget increases for the university for each of the next two fiscal years. Heineman had proposed a 3.8 percent increase the first year and 4.6 percent the second.

On Thursday, the committee followed up by approving a 4.5 percent budget increase for state colleges in 2013-14 and a 4 percent increase the following year. Heineman had proposed increases of 4.5 percent and 4.4 percent for the comparable years.

Growing state tax revenue made the higher education funding increases easier, Mello said.

The state's official forecasting board projected that Nebraska would collect $64.8 million more than projected in taxes for the two-year budget period beginning July 1.

The Legislature and governor use the board's projections in building state budgets.

Mello cautioned that the budget increase — and the tuition freeze — is not a done deal.

The Appropriations Committee typically reviews its whole budget plan before sending it to the full Legislature.

The plan is due to the Legislature by May 1, and lawmakers must finish work on the budget by May 20.

The state budget picture could change when the forecasting board meets again in April.

“Everything's fluid right now,” Mello said.

The tuition freeze would apply to all in-state students attending the University of Nebraska campuses in Lincoln, Kearney and Omaha, including the NU Medical Center, as well as Chadron, Wayne and Peru State Colleges.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9583, martha.stoddard@owh.com

Contact the writer: Martha Stoddard

martha.stoddard@owh.com    |   402-473-9583    |  

Martha covers the Nebraska Legislature, the governor, state agencies, and health, education and budget issues out of our Lincoln bureau.

Keystone XL pipeline backers blast ‘political expediency’ as foes hail ruling to delay decision
Interstate construction to cause lane shifts, closings in Omaha area
Man, 21, shot in ankle while walking near 30th, W Streets
Teenager arrested after woman's purse is snatched outside Omaha store
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs, police say
Dems criticize governor hopeful Beau McCoy's ad in which he strikes a Barack Obama doll
Omahan charged in fatal shooting in Benson neighborhood
Friday's attendance dips at Millard West after bathroom threat
High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as a result of Operation Purple Haze
High court denies death row appeal of cult leader convicted of murder
Haze in area comes from Kansas, Oklahoma
Man taken into custody in domestic dispute
Omaha judge reprimanded for intervening in peer attorney's DUI case
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Police seek public's help in finding an armed man
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member helps lead fight against Omaha violence
Church is pressing its case for old Temple Israel site
OPPD board holding public forum, open house May 7
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »