2018 Legislative Update – Week 3

Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee

The Subcommittee met for its final scheduled hearing this week, focusing on the Board of Regents’ budget Priorities. The committee also considered other budget requests as well as the budget priorities of the Utah System of Technical Colleges. A major focus for the Subcommittee and the Commissioner’s Office has been restoration of the base budget cuts made on Friday, January 26.

The committee placed compensation as its top priority, a 2% merit increase, as well as the Board-approved equity adjustments for Snow College and Dixie State University. The Subcommittee then went to work restoring the 1.5% cut to the base budget it made last week. In a bifurcated set of motions, the committee prioritized restoring .5% of the cuts above most of the USHE budget priorities. While still prioritized, the remaining 1% of the base budget cut was ranked lowest among the committee’s USHE budget rankings. In the end, the Subcommittee prioritized approximately 55% of the original budget priorities of the Board of Regents (not including merit compensation increases):

 Higher Education Appropriations SubcommitteeBoard of Regents Budget Priorities
Equity Compensation adjustments$1,635,900$1,635,900
Restoration of USHE 0.5% Subcommittee reduction$4,693,500
Student Growth and Capacity$8,645,000 $15,969,000
Completion$4,705,000 $7,958,000
Workforce$8,750,000 $15,848,900
Statewide Priorities:
-Performance Funding*$3,850,000
-Regents/New Century Scholarship$3,345,000$3,345,000
-IT Network/Infrastructure$2,400,000$4,900,000
-Utah Academic Library Consortium$650,000$1,300,000
Restoration of 1% reduction associated with Tuition Waivers$9,551,200
TOTAL (not including restoration of 1.5% base budget cuts)$30,130,900 $54,726,800

*The Subcommittee did not prioritize the Board’s request for Performance Funding which is part of a restricted account as established in SB117 adopted in 2017, and are expected to be part of the budget considerations of the Executive Appropriations Committee.

 

The Subcommittee also prioritized approximately $9.5M in additional one-time and ongoing appropriations requests for additional appropriations, ranked below other budget priorities. All of the Subcommittee’s recommendations will be advanced to the Executive Appropriations Committee, in the formulation of the state’s FY 2019 budget of new revenues. Further budget action is not expected until new revenue figures are announced towards the end of February 2017.


Tuition Waivers

The Subcommittee endorsed a set of options advanced by the Commissioner’s Office to decrease the amount of tuition waived. The proposed adjustments deal with four specific waivers, amounting to 80% of the $125m awarded annually in waivers: Resident 10% Waivers, Non-resident meritorious undergraduate waivers, Alumni Legacy Tuition Waivers and other similar waivers, WICHE WUE/WGRP Tuition Waivers. The Commissioner’s Office is working with legislators on the necessary statutory and policy changes to enable the Board to implement these changes.


Capital Development Budget

The Infrastructure and General Government (IGG) Subcommittee prioritized design for the Regents’ top three capital development projects at Weber State, Dixie State, and Utah Valley, and funding the fourth and fifth priorities at Utah State and Southern Utah; as follows:

1Mountainland Technical College - Thanksgiving Point Technology Trades Building$32,993,000
2Utah State University - Biological & Natural Resources Renovation$23,000,000
3Davis Technical College - Allied Health Building$34,364,500
4Weber State University - Noorda Engineering & Applied Science Building$3,000,000
5Dixie State University - Science Building$3,000,000
6Utah Valley University - Business Building$1,750,000
7Southern Utah University - Sorenson Child & Family Development Center$5,000,000

The IGG Subcommittee also approved all of the Regents’ proposed non-state funded projects.


Legislation of Interest

HB 116, Student Civil Liberties Protection Act by Rep. Kim Coleman, is based on 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. While current policies uphold civil liberties for students, higher education supports this additional review and rulemaking for greater transparency. The bill passed the House Education Committee, and awaits further consideration by the House.

**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 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. Brad Last 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 a provision requiring Senate consent for the appointment of the student member of the State Board of Regents. The bill also provides that board members could be removed by the Governor for cause.  The bill unanimously passed the House Education Committee.

*SB174, Higher Education Capital Facilities by Sen. Ann Millner, establishes a new procedure and funding mechanism for higher education capital development projects using metrics established by the Board of Regents in these areas: enrollment, total performance according to performance funding requirements, regional growth in student population, facility age and condition, and adequacy of academic space. The use of these funds are dependent on the amount the Legislature appropriates to the institutions. The bill awaits a Senate committee assignment.

* 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/