The Executive Appropriations Committee met late Friday to adopt the state’s FY 21 budget totalling approximately $20 billion. Legislative leaders substantially supported the major priorities advanced by the USHE Board of Regents:
- Performance Funding ($29.5 million)
- College Access Advisors ($1 million)
- Enrollment Growth ($5 million)
- ¾ of a 2.5% employee compensation increase, in parity with state agency employees
The Committee also funded four USHE institution building/land projects:
- Southern Utah University: Academic Classroom Building
- University of Utah: Applied Science Building
- Utah State University: Heravi Global Teaching & Learning Center
- Salt Lake Community College: Herriman Campus Gen. Education Building
- Dixie State University: SITLA Land Acquisition
Other funding increases include:
- $5 million increase to the Regents’ Scholarship in connection with SB 117
- $5.1 million for a new grant initiative to foster expertise in emerging technologies
- $2.5 million (one-time) to examine potential large scale opportunities to share major services across USHE
While there may be a few budget adjustments in the closing days of the legislative session next week, the major components will largely stay intact. The House and Senate are expected to formally adopt the budget in the coming days.
Legislation of Interest:
HB 132 (1st Sub.), Higher Education Student Speech Rights by Rep. Kim Coleman establishes a specific threshold that determines when student-on-student speech becomes harassment. After several years of opposing this legislation, USHE was able to work with the sponsor on substitute language that satisfies USHE institutions’ biggest concerns. The Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee bill unanimously passed the bill, and it awaits consideration by the full Senate.
*HB 256, Student Aid Amendments by Rep. Karen Kwan requires student applicants to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for certain financial aid for higher education. This modifies the application process, clarifies the qualifications for student financial aid, provided by scholarship or through the state, as well as determines where the financial aid may be applied with schools recognized by USBE, USHE, and UTECH. The Senate Education Committee unanimously passed the bill and awaits further consideration by the full Senate.
*HB 336, Concurrent Enrollment Certificate Pilot Program by Rep. Val Peterson creates the PRIME pilot program to expand access to concurrent enrollment and technical education in K-12. The legislation creates a three-tiered program that includes the LAUNCH certificate, DISCOVER breadth certificate, and TRANSFORM general education/technical certificate. The bill passed the House and is currently awaiting a second reading in the Senate.
HB 409, Concurrent Enrollment Amendments by Rep. Eric Hutchings requires the USHE Board of Regents to annually approve a prioritized list of upper division Concurrent Enrollment courses and amends the formula for increasing funding for Concurrent Enrollment. The House Education Committee passed the bill and it awaits consideration by the House.
*SB 96, Emerging Technology Talent Initiative by Sen. Ann Millner creates an initiative that awards proposals submitted to an advisory board under the direction of the USHE Board of Regents that expands programs in deep technology (e.g. artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, advanced materials, robotics, secure computing). The House Public Utilities and Technology Committee unanimously passed the bill, and it awaits consideration by the House.
*SB 111 (1st Sub.), Higher Education Amendments by Sen. Ann Millner is legislation that significantly revamps the governance structure of higher education in Utah. The bill’s primary components include:
- Merges the two current systems of higher education into a single system
- Establishes a single governing board, its initial composition and process for appointing future members
- Defines the the new board’s duties (selection of institutions presidents, requirements related to an institution’s authority to establish new programs, etc.)
- Mandates certain transition-related actions of the USHE Board of Regents and the Utah System of Technical Colleges Board of Trustees
- Extends the term of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Commission by one year
A press conference of the bill’s introduction was held on February 11. Here is a summary of the legislation. The bill passed the both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature for enrolling. Transition plans are in the works and immediate action is expected by both governing boards soon after the legislative session.
SB 117, Higher Education Financial Aid Amendments by Sen. Daniel Hemmert allows the Regents’ Scholarship to be used at private, nonprofit colleges or universities within the state (BYU, LDS Business College, Western Governors University, Westminster College). It also limits the amount of scholarship funding available to those specific kinds of colleges. The bill received unanimous support by the House Education Committee 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/