Governor signs state budget package, including university funding

LINCOLN – The University of Nebraska system will receive increased funding, a new scholarship program for students in high-need areas will continue, and NU and the state will extend a successful deferred maintenance partnership under a two-year budget package signed Monday by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Gov. Pete Ricketts signs the state budget into law Monday.
Gov. Pete Ricketts signs the state budget into law Monday.

Ricketts approved the 2021-23 state budget package with no line-item vetoes. His signature clears the way for a two-year tuition freeze across the NU system and provides critical investments in the new Nebraska Career Scholarships program as well as a long-term building maintenance initiative that will help ensure safe, quality facilities for students, faculty and staff.

“Gov. Ricketts’ approval of the state budget package sends a strong message of support for access, quality education and workforce growth in Nebraska,” NU President Ted Carter said. “The historic investments included in this budget will benefit students, families and Nebraska taxpayers for generations to come.

“We are especially grateful for the governor’s leadership on the Nebraska Career Scholarships, which are already helping our state retain more top talent for the workforce. The University of Nebraska is in a position of strength as we emerge from a challenging period, and that is thanks in great part to our elected leaders who recognize the critical importance of affordable, excellent higher education for the people of our state.”

The university sought, and the Legislature and governor fully funded, modest 2% increases in state funding each of the next two years.

The state’s support also allows for an across-the-board tuition freeze for 2021-22 and 2022-23. Additionally, the budget package includes continued funding for the Nebraska Career Scholarships, a new state program providing scholarships for Nebraska students pursuing degrees in high-need areas such as engineering, math, IT and health care.

The governor’s approval also will extend through 2061-62 an NU-state partnership on deferred maintenance to address building renewal and repair needs across the campuses.

The university’s 900 buildings represent 70% of the state’s building assets. More than one-third of NU facilities are 50 years or older, and the system’s total deferred maintenance needs are estimated at $800 million.

Carter praised elected leaders for their long-term investment, noting that by capitalizing on historically low interest rates, the deferred maintenance plan will save Nebraska taxpayers about $1.5 billion over its 40-year duration.