UI boss disses lawmakers' snub

Mar. 18—The University of Idaho president expressed disappointment with Idaho legislators who voted to give the school less money than what the governor recommended for its construction funding.

UI President Scott Green released a statement Friday stating Idaho's Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC) recommended the state provide just less than $9 million for capital projects funds. Gov. Brad Little recommended the school receive $15.5 million.

This makes it more difficult for UI to complete three of its planned construction projects, Green said.

"This funding would allow us to finish our construction of the Research and Extension Center (in) Parma, but the McCall Field Campus and the Meat Science Center would be short-funded this year and the military sciences facility will not happen," Green said.

Green took issue with JFAC determining this amount based on the university's enrollment.

"While budgeting based on enrollment makes sense for operational costs, there is no correlation between enrollment and building costs, so the universities with older infrastructure will always be at a disadvantage under this rubric," Green said.

JFAC also recommended Idaho's other four-year universities, and Lewis-Clark State College, receive less than what the governor budgeted.

The Legislature did vote to provide the UI $1 million in one-time funding to help recoup some of the costs incurred with increasing security after the murders in Moscow last fall. Still, Green pointed out not all of the Legislature was in favor of this bill.

"However, there were some representatives and senators who voted against this funding, incredibly, some in the North Idaho corridor who saw firsthand the toll this capital crime took on our community," Green said. "We thought the thousands of Vandals in the area would want to know that."

Among those who voted against it in the House were Dale Hawkins, R-Fernwood, and Dan Crawford, who was filling in for Mike Kingsley, R-Lewiston, along with several other representatives from the Coeur d'Alene area. In the Senate, no votes came from Dan Foreman, R-Viola, and Cindy Carlson, R-Riggins.

Green spent much of his statement addressing reports from conservative organization Idaho Freedom Foundation regarding which UI programs are state funded.

One IFF report claimed that Idaho's universities spend "spend $4.8 million on 57 full-time employees devoted to 'social justice'; 'diversity, equity, and inclusion'; and other Marxist buzzwords."

Green said the UI asked law firm Hawley-Troxell to look into these claims.

"The investigation found that with the exception of two employees, these positions are not paid by state appropriations," Green said. "Of the two positions that do receive state funds one has at least 50% job duties unrelated to diversity, equity and inclusion, and in the other, 90% is unrelated, and the payment sources approximately correspond with the funding sources. No state appropriations were used to pay salaries for the activities objected to by the Idaho Freedom Foundation."

Green said one employee is in an endowed position to recruit and retain women in engineering.

"We have no cap on those who academically qualify attending the UI, so no one is disadvantaged, but we have had great success attracting and retaining women in our engineering program, and Idaho industry desperately needs more engineers!" Green said.

IFF also published a report saying Idaho taxpayers are subsidizing pro-abortion, radical gender and critical race theory ideologies through the WWAMI program. Green said Hawley-Troxell looked into these claims and found they were false.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.