Oil boom and increased support from conservative lawmakers bring funding increases to N.D. colleges

Dive Summary:

  • Unlike other states, North Dakota's economy didn't take a meaningful hit during the economic downturn that started during 2008, and the state has brought in billions of dollars in revenue thanks to an oil boom and its several natural resource development taxes.
  • Because of this, Gov. Jack Dalrymple proposed a $12.8 billion budget in December for 2013-15, with a 14% increase (around $90 million) in the operating budget for the state's 11-campus higher education system and an additional $177 million in one-time capital expenditures.
  • While some state lawmakers, like Rep. Dan Ruby, are skeptical of the proposed budget increases for fear of creating a model that can't be sustained once the oil boom money goes away and a belief that there are higher priorities for those funds than higher ed, others hope the increased funding will create a turnaround in the state's higher ed system.

From the article:

Grant Shaft, a member of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education and its immediate past chair, gets funny looks from other states' board members when he talks about his system's plans. "At meetings of the [Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges], there's no question we're the envy of everybody," he said. "We go to breakout sessions and hear about the dismal economic crisis in each other state, and it comes North Dakota's turn and we have such a different story." ...

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