University System of New Hampshire officials are making their pitch to restore cuts made in the last state budget that reduced support for public higher education nearly in half.
State university system Chancellor Ed MacKay relied on a timely economic catch phrase to describe the impact budget cuts have had on public higher education.
“You talk about a fiscal cliff; I think there’s no better depiction of a fiscal cliff than what we experienced in the current biennium.”
MacKay was speaking to members of the House Finance committee on Thursday.
University system trustees have pledged to freeze tuition for in-state students for the next two years if the Legislature restores $100 million in funding over the next two years.
In-state tuition to the University of New Hampshire has risen by roughly 25 percent over the past two years, to nearly $14,000 per year.
But MacKay says cuts to staffing and reductions in employee benefits kept tuition from going even higher.
UNH President Mark Huddleston points out the state now ranks last for support for higher education per capita, at roughly $63 per person.
“Public higher education in New Hampshire certainly isn’t going to be able to provide the next generation of skilled workers on its own.”
Governor Maggie Hassan has said beginning to restore the cuts is critical to the state’s economy.