The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee met twice this week, hearing from five of the eight USHE presidents. Each president advocated the Board of Regents’ unified budget priorities, and highlighted specific student successes and efficiencies in the past year.
The subcommittee, as directed by the Executive Appropriations Committee, advanced three major adjustments to reduce the base budget of higher education 1.5% (current budgeted funds):
- A tax funds reduction equal to a 1% reduction value of the tuition waivers awarded by the institution in FY 2017.
- A 0.5% overall reduction within an institution’s line items that comprised at least 5% of an institution’s overall funding, with the remainder of the cut being taken from the E&G line.
- Specific budget reduction recommendations for the New Century Scholarship, Campus Compact, and the Utah Academic Library Consortium.
These reductions are based on a proposal presented to the subcommittee by the Legislative Fiscal Analyst. As a result of this approach to the budget reduction, USHE institutions are not all impacted the same: institutions utilizing tuition waivers more than others experienced a steeper budget reduction as outlined below.
|Institution||Base Budget (all lines)||0.5% Base Reduction||1% Tuition Waiver/Other LFA Recommended Reduction||Total Budget Reduction||% Base Budget Reduction|
|University of Utah||303,547,200||-1,517,700||-1,622,400||-3,140,100||-1.00%|
|Utah State University||202,872,000||-1,014,400||-3,011,400||-4,025,800||-2.00%|
|Weber State University||83,849,700||-419,300||-970,400||-1,389,700||-1.70%|
|Southern Utah University||38,676,500||-193,400||-852,800||-1,046,200||-2.70%|
|Dixie State University||35,716,000||-178,600||-537,200||-715,800||-2.00%|
|Utah Valley University||108,206,900||-541,000||-1,407,800||-1,948,800||-1.80%|
|Salt Lake Community College||96,823,600||-484,100||-374,500||-858,600||-0.90%|
|Board of Regents/Commissioner||45,105,400||-225,600||-614,900||-840,500||-1.90%|
While it is hoped the 1.5% cut is ultimately restored, these proposals add to the challenge of increasing state funding for critical higher education needs in the state.
Legislation of Interest
**HB 82, Student Right to Active Counsel by Rep. Kim Coleman, introduced similar legislation in the 2016 and 2017 Sessions. The Legislature did not adopt the proposed legislation in either session. In July 2016, the Board of Regents adopted policy that outlines required due process for disciplinary actions and included the role of active counsel in certain proceedings. After almost two hours of discussion and testimony, the bill was voted down by the House Judiciary Committee.
*HB 116, Student Civil Liberties Protection Act by Rep. Kim Coleman, is the culmination of efforts by the Administrative Rules Review Committee’s review of the policy development processes at USHE institutions over the past year. The bill requires USHE institutions to review current policies and repeal or initiate rulemaking proceedings for each policy that directly affects a student’s civil liberty. It also requires the Board of Regents to establish a process to receive student complaints about a policy to the Board. While current policies uphold civil liberties for students, higher education supports this additional review and rulemaking for greater transparency. The bill will be considered in the House Education Committee on Monday, February 5.
**HB 122, Higher Education Employment Authority Amendments by Rep. Justin Fawson, proposes to move Regents’ authority to appoint presidents to institutional Boards of Trustees. The proposed changes would create a confusing line of governance for the presidents where Regents are responsible for the oversight and accountability of higher education in the state, yet have no ability to recruit and hire the best talent to help carry out the state’s higher education objectives. Presidential selection was a major component to 2017’s SB 238, implemented for less than a year. The bill is currently in House Rules Committee.
*HB 300, Higher Education Governance Amendments by Rep. Jon Stanard, provides for gubernatorial appointment of the local boards of directors in of the Utah System of Technology Colleges (USTC) to be parallel with board appointments in USHE, and removes the provision requiring Senate consent for the appointment of the student member of the State Board of Regents, an inadvertent result of last year’s passage of SB 238. The bill also provides that board members in both USTC and USHE could be removed by the Governor for cause.
*SB 104, Talent Development and Retention Strategy by Sen. Ann Millner, establishes a loan forgiveness program for students who graduate in programs that lead to high demand jobs. It also enables private business to partner with institutions to help fund the scholarships. The legislation helps address the current outmigration of Utah’s workforce talent. The bill unanimously passed the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee and awaits further consideration by the full Senate.
*SCR 3, Concurrent Resolution on the Importance of Civil Liberties for Students by Sen. Jim Dabakis, acknowledges the transformative opportunities higher education provides. It also encourages state institutions of higher education to defend the civil liberties of students and create an avenue by which a student may appeal a policy. The bill received unanimous support of the Senate and awaits consideration by the House.
* USHE has taken an official position in support; ** USHE has taken an official position in opposition. For more information on legislation, committee agendas, or to view or listen to floor debates, see: http://le.utah.gov/