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House panel votes to consider Higher Education Stabilization Fund

House panel votes to consider Higher Education Stabilization Fund

Dustin Hurst
February 15, 2010
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February 15, 2010

The House Education Committee wants to be prepared next time a down economy comes around.  The committee voted Monday to introduce legislation that would create a Higher Education Stabilization Fund (HESF) to help prevent massive reductions to higher ed during times of financial turmoil.

Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, outlined the plan to lawmakers in a short hearing, saying that the rescue funding plan would create three accounts where the state could stash money for colleges and universities.  The first account would pool interest earned from student fees and interest, an amount which Bedke believes would amount to about $114,000 for fiscal year 2011, which begins on July 1.  That fund would only draw off the interest from four state colleges and universities, leaving out the University of Idaho, which typically invests in its own portfolio.

The second and third funds would be set up as "bucket" accounts, one for four-year institutions and one for the three community colleges and Eastern Idaho Technical College.  Those accounts would be funded by legislative appropriations in times of surplus. Bedke said there is no money currently available for either of those account, but said he wants the option left open in the future.

The plan is the product of Bedke, Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, and Gov. Butch Otter.  The bill was introduced on a unanimous vote and will receive more consideration upcoming weeks.

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