Proposal to Leave Midwest Compact Could Cost State of Iowa Millions

(Radio Iowa) It could cost the State of Iowa millions of dollars if it leaves a Midwest organization that negotiates contracts for education-related expenses. A committee reviewing state boards and commissions has the Midwestern Higher Education Compact on its list for elimination. Emily Shields, executive director of Community Colleges for Iowa, says leaving the compact would have a significant fiscal impact.

“We benefit greatly from the discounts available through that membership,” Shields says. A separate distance learning agreement is only available through Iowa’s membership in the Midwest Higher Education Council, too.

“This agreement saves the colleges of Iowa, including all 15 community colleges, millions of dollars in time and fees necessary to
be able to offer online instruction to students in other states,” Shields says. Iowa colleges saved about three-and-a-half million dollars last year on the online classes taken by out-of-state students. Rob Trembath is chief operating officer of the Midwest Higher Education Compact, which he calls MHEC.

“Since joining MHEC in 2005, Iowa entities have saved $20.53 million through participation in MHEC contracts and programs,” Trembath says. Twelve Midwestern states are part of the compact.

“Some examples of where Iowa utilized MHEC contracts and programs this past year include MHEC technology contracts where Iowa higher education institutions, K-12 districts and schools, state and local governments saved more than $656,000 by purchasing$7.29 million in technology hardware, software and services through MHEC negotiated contracts,” Trembath says. Every state that borders Iowa, along with Kansas, North Dakota and Ohio, are part of the compact. The organization’s contract negotiations saved Iowa and the other 11 states nearly 128 million dollars last year. The Iowa Boards and Commissions Review Committee will issue its final report at the end of the month, but it will be up to legislators and the governor to decide whether any of its recommendations become law. The committee’s initial report would get rid of about a third of the state boards, commissions and advisory groups in state government.