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Idaho's higher ed budget survives cuts for the moment

James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Presidents of Idaho's four-year colleges and universities appear at a press conference in this undated file photo.

An attempt to further cut the budgets of Idaho’s universities over accusations of indoctrination has failed – for now.

On Thursday, Republican Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg) tried to cut $1.3 million from Boise State University, Idaho State University and University of Idaho.

Such a move would’ve been on top of a $2.5 million cut to higher education last year over concerns of taxpayer dollars funding critical race theory education.

Nate pointed to programs, like the Boise State University Women’s Center, University of Idaho’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and Idaho State’s Office of Equity and Inclusion as evidence the schools are violating a law passed last year that students can’t be compelled to believe certain viewpoints.

“The universities have not done such reductions and saved the taxpayers that money,” he said. “They have, in fact, increased their activities on campuses.”

University officials have said diversity initiatives are not paid for by state funds, or they complement programs that share other viewpoints.

Nate’s comments garnered objections from each Democrat on the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee.

“I’ve given you tangible, actual evidences of us taking our eye off the ball. This is not chasing ghosts,” Nate said, as Rep. Colin Nash (D-Boise) called for the committee to vote on the proposal.

Nate’s motion failed with only Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird) supporting him.

“I don’t understand why we would be against teaching anything about the diverse nature of our society, including people that don’t feel included,” said Rep. Scott Syme (R-Caldwell) who voted against Nate’s motion.

Instead, JFAC recommended a $25 million increase to the higher education budget compared to current year spending. But its passage isn’t guaranteed.

Last year, lawmakers rejected multiple versions of the higher education budget until cuts were made.

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

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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