SOUTH KINGSTOWN—Gov, Lincoln Chafee met with a small gathering of university administrators and media on Wednesday, to discuss his intention to increase $10 million in public higher education in Rhode Island for FY 2012. Chafee’s budget contributes $154 million in operational funds and would restore a total of 82 academic positions that have disappeared at Rhode Island College and Community College of Rhode Island.
“Spend it wisely,” Chafee concluded his remarks, giving a characteristic bashful grin and wave.
Chafee was joined by Ray DiPasquale, of CCRI, David Dooley, of URI, and Nancy Carriulo, of Rhode Island College.
“You have put a stop on a downward spiral over the last four years,” DiPasquale said to the governor. “This funding is tangible evidence of the importance and necessity of a strong higher education system…it is the key to economic recovery.”
He also praised Chafee’s “bold step” and said higher education needed to be affordable and accessible. The administrators already—before the budget has been passed—agreed that Chafee was the “Education Governor.” Chafee has proven himself to be the moderate Rockefeller-style New England Republican that no longer exists. His budget sliced Health and Human services (which takes up almost one third of the budget) while making long-term investments in infrastructure and education through increased tax revenue.
The enthusiasm about this appropriation comes after four years of diminishing funds to higher education. Since 2007, there has been a state appropriation budget decrease of $26 million dollars.
In 2007, for example, the state appropriation for the university was $83 million and for fiscal year 2011 the university requested $63 million and received six million less, $57 million.
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