The backlog on the state’s endowed chairs and professorships — estimated to be as high as $271 million — just got a little smaller. Lawmakers raided the nine-year-old EDGE (Economic Development Generating Excellence) fund to move $170 million to higher education to fund faculty positions where donors had written checks, but the state was years delinquent in providing the match.

It’s a double-edged sword for higher education. The matching money is welcome and helps universities and colleges fill positions promised to donors. But the death of the EDGE fund takes away another recruiting advantage universities used to hire the best faculty.

Many of the companies that received EDGE funding came from faculty start-ups. Seventeen companies received $29.4 million in interest earnings from EDGE grant competitions.

If the legislature would have committed itself to appropriating money for the endowed chair positions rather than putting the obligation aside for another session, the backlog wouldn’t have been created.

A lawmaker once told us lean budget years were much easier because no one asked for money. This is a case of the case coming through on a promise made years ago. Some donors had been waiting for years to see their dollars matched.

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