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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Senate flunks House plan to close University Chancellor’s office

CONCORD – The state Senate dropped a bid by the House of Representatives to eliminate the chancellor’s office at the University System of New Hampshire.

The House approved eliminating the office and moving all its responsibilities to the USNH board of trustees and the presidents of the four respective campuses.

House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, maintained that erasing more than 70 employees and more than a million-dollar budget could lower tuition for students.

“This piece of legislation is directly on point to our agenda,” Bettencourt said of the bill (HB 1692).

But the Senate decided, with no debate, to gut the measure and replace it with an annual requirement that trustees submit an accountability and transparency report about the university system office to the Legislature.

Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said getting rid of the chancellor’s office was “too extreme” a policy matter.

“There can always be more efficiency throughout government and higher education, but the chancellor’s office does serve an important function,” Morse said.

The original sponsor of the move to wipe out the office, Rep. Robbie Parsons, R-Milton, has told associates he’s looking for another House bill on which to attach his project.

– KEVIN LANDRIGAN