Video: North Dakota House Approves Bill Giving Legislature Control Over Tuition


The North Dakota House today debated HB1303. It was introduced by Rep. Kim Koppelman (R-West Fargo), and it would take authority for setting tuition away from the State Board of Higher Education and give it back to the Legislature.

About a week ago I wrote about how the university system uses tuition as a political weapon. That concept was very much a part of the floor debate today with multiple lawmakers expressing frustration over the lavish appropriations they’ve made to higher education even as tuition rates continue to climb.

It seems to me that since lawmakers are already in charge of appropriations, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t also be in charge of tuition. Let them find a balance between what taxpayers and students pay for higher education, and take the power out of the hands of university system officials who have used it as a political weapon.

Via Legislative Council, here’s legislative appropriations to higher education which will have increased 159 percent since the 2005-2007 biennium (if the levels in Governor Jack Dalrymple’s executive budget are hit) over a less than 9 percent increase in enrollment:


Meanwhile, at the state’s “research institutions” (UND and NDSU) tuition has increased more than 48 percent. Tuition has increased more than 45 percent at the state’s four-year institutions, and 30 percent at the state’s two-year institutions:


“Although we appropriate…we don’t have any control over tuition rates,” Rep. Mark Dosch (R-Bismarck) said in his floor speech. “No matter how much we appropriate we don’t’ know what tuition will be.”

Dosch then got in a shot at NDSU President Dean Bresciani, saying that after the Legislature gave his campus a substantial appropriation increase he “came flying back in his private jet” to Bismarck to ask for a 8.8 percent increase in tuition.

Rep. Kathy Hawken (?-Fargo) shot back that Bresciani was merely fighting for his school “and has been in trouble for it ever since.”

Ultimately the bill passed on a 59-31 vote, though House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) said the bill faces a “tough road” ahead in the Senate.