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Special Report on the
2005 Legislative Session

March 2005

The 2005 Utah legislative session was one of the best in recent years, for both higher education and other state agencies. This was due primarily to the improved economy and the resulting increased state tax revenues. But this year, thanks to the efforts of our new president and hundreds of legislative advocates, the University experienced a warmer reception generally than we have in recent years.

The Legislature provided substantial new funding for operations and capital facilities, including the Marriott Library renovation project. They provided ongoing funding increases for salaries, health and dental benefits, fuel and power, operations and maintenance, the engineering and nursing initiatives, the high technology economic development initiative, and a handful of campus-specific items. One-time funds were appropriated for fuel and power, operations and maintenance, the engineering and nursing initiatives, the economic development initiative, and a couple of campus-specific items.

Overall

With all new funding taken into account, the University’s ongoing state funding was increased by $12.5 million, or six percent. The U received an additional $6.1 million in one-time funds for operations and equipment, and $48 million in one-time funds for the Marriott Library renovation.


Operating Budget Increases

Compensation. The Legislature provided a 2.5 percent increase for cost of living salary increases for state-appropriated faculty and staff. They also provided $2.2 million for faculty and staff retention to the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE), to be administered by the Commissioner of Higher Education. The U also received $1,594,600 for health and dental insurance costs for a total compensation package of 3.2 percent. These funds will be allocated to the University’s benefits pool and will offset a portion of the increases that employees would otherwise face in insurance premiums this coming July.

Engineering Initiative. In this, the fifth year of the Engineering Initiative, the Legislature appropriated $1.5 million in ongoing funding to the USHE and $500,000 in one-time funding. The Technology Initiative Advisory Board, composed of Utah industry representatives, will allocate the funds.

Nursing Initiative. The Legislature appropriated $317,800 in ongoing funds and $122,200 in one-time funds for the University as part of the Nursing Initiative. Six other institutions also received a share of the $1.5 million total ongoing and $500,000 one-time appropriation for this initiative. These funds will help the University train additional graduate level students to expand the pool of nursing faculty in the state.

Reading Clinic. Ongoing funding for the Reading Clinic at the level of $375,000 was appropriated, continuing what has been provided during the past several years through public education, but making it more secure by moving it to the higher education budget starting this year.

Utah Museum of Natural History and Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The Legislature appropriated $50,000 in ongoing funding to the Utah Museum of Natural History for management of the Range Creek archeological site in eastern Utah, and $465,000 in one-time funds for the Utah Museum of Fine Art for secured storage for the museum’s collection.

New Century Scholarships. The Legislature appropriated $253,600 in one-time and $530,000 in on-going funds to the USHE for these scholarships, which provide substantial tuition assistance for students who complete the equivalent of an AA (two-year degree) while in high school through Advance Placement and concurrent enrollment courses. The University will receive a share of this funding.

Fuel and Power. For the first time in several years, the Legislature appropriated new funds for the increased cost of fuel and power: $5 million fiscal 2005 supplemental and $5 million ongoing. The U’s share of these funds is $5.36 million, half supplemental for the current year and half ongoing starting in fiscal 2006.

Operations & Maintenance. The Legislature also appropriated new funds for ongoing operations and maintenance. The U’s share of the $5 million fund is $1.53 million in ongoing funding.

High Technology Economic Development Initiative. The Legislature provided phase-one funding for an economic development initiative sponsored by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCU), Utah Information Technology Association (UITA), and other business interests. It provides $3 million in one-time funding for equipment at the U (as a 2005 supplemental appropriation) and $4 million in ongoing funding for research clusters at the U and Utah State University, with the U’s share being $2.4 million. The U also received $350,000 in 2005 supplemental funds to be used for planning the next steps for this initiative.


Capital Funding

The Legislature responded positively this year to our request for funds for the Marriott Library renovation project and appropriated $48 million in one-time funding. Work on this project will begin this spring.


Tuition Increase

The Board of Regents and the Legislature have approved a three percent increase in tier-one tuition for the U. The University will ask the Board of Regents to approve a 4.9 percent tier-two increase for undergraduates and an eight percent tier-two increase for graduate students. A large portion of the increase in tuition revenue will be used to match tax funds allocated to compensation, and another large portion will be devoted to hiring additional faculty and addressing costs related to enrollment growth, data processing, networks, ADA requirements, and library collections.

 

Legislation of Interest to the University Community

Among the hundreds of bills filed this year, the USHE tracked dozens of them for possible impact on higher education. Among those which were passed and await the governor’s signature are:

HB 74, Tuition Reimbursement for Special Education Teachers, requires institutions to consider special education teachers among the priorities for the T.H. Bell program.

HB 103, Student Housing Built by Higher Education, requires that in the event that a new student housing structure is within 100 feet of a private residence, the local government will be notified and, if they desire, may hold a joint public hearing with the higher education institution.

HB 138, Nonresident Tuition Amendments, modifies statute to enable eligibility through meeting a time requirement (three years), as well as the current credit-hour requirement (60 hours) whichever can be accomplished first.

HB 145, Amendments to Hearing Impaired Telecom Program, provides that the Public Service Commission may use a portion of the funds generated by the current telephone surcharge for services to the deaf to contract with an institution of higher education for the training of certified interpreters.

HB 255, Investment of Higher Education Institution Endowment Funds, exempts USHE endowments from certain provisions of the State Money Management Act.

HB 287, Revenue Bonds and Capital Facility Authorizations, among other projects, authorizes the construction of the University Hospital addition, the first phase of the new Humanities building, and the Social Work building addition with non-state funds.

HB 313, Economic Development Initiative for Higher Education, requires Board of Regents to establish a “Jobs Now” program for short-term training; funded with $1 million in one-time funding.

SB 13, Individual Income Tax Subtraction for Certain Military Income, allows what the title of the bill states but does not, as considered in an earlier version of the bill, require USHE to waive resident, nonresident undergraduate, and graduate tuition for all military personnel.

SB 95, Office of Museum Services Amendment, designates the Utah Museum of Fine Arts as the state institution responsible for collecting and exhibiting art.

SB 119, Rural Medical Residency, provides for pilot program of medical residencies in rural areas and calls for annual appropriations of $300,000.

SB 120, Allocation of Profits from School and Industrial Trust Lands, allocates approximately $60,000 annually from trust lands now going to the University of Utah for teacher education, to be shared among public higher education institutions offering teaching degrees.

SB 179, Protection of Government Records, allows certain records related to research at a research university to be protected.

 

 

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