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Politics & Government

Boise State's budget draws pushback from state lawmakers

A photo of Boise State President Dr. Marlene Tromp in Boise State Public Radio studios.
James Dawson
/
Boise State Public Radio
Boise State University President Marlene Tromp, seen here in a file photo. Lawmakers grilled her Tuesday about the school's social justice programs, which Tromp said aren't funded by state dollars.

Editor's note: Boise State Public Radio is affiliated with Boise State University, but we remain editorially independent.

Backlash against social justice programs at Boise State University is once again a topic of concern at the Idaho legislature.

During Boise State’s budget hearing Tuesday, Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg) repeatedly asked President Marlene Tromp about how she’s reduced spending on social justice programs.

Lawmakers cut Boise State’s budget by $1.5 million last year and barred universities and K-12 schools from forcing students to believe certain viewpoints.

“We ensured that we didn’t have programs on state dollars that represented areas of concerns,” Tromp said. “We heard and read the legislation and we met with our faculty and with our staff across the university.”

She sidestepped Nate’s question, pointing to the school’s new free speech institute.

“I would say we have evolved our programming,” she said. “So, I would say that matches the desire of the bill.”

But Nate kept pushing – three times.

“Again, instead of hearing from you answers about what Boise State has done to cut back, I’ve heard answers that’s talked about increases,” he said.

Far-right groups and lawmakers have advocated for further cuts to higher ed over concerns about critical race theory, with little evidence it’s being taught.

Last year, Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird) proposed cutting $18 million from the higher education budget – $17 million alone from Boise State – something Nate also supported. Giddings argued that figure represented the amount of money universities spend on social justice programs. Her move failed.

Lawmakers will continue to debate the higher education budget over the next two months.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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