Report on the
2007 Legislative Session
The 2007 Utah legislative
session was a very positive one for higher education as well
as other state agencies. There were numerous helpful developments,
set against the backdrop of a very strong state economy. The
biggest winners in terms of funding increases were transportation
and public education. Legislators reduced the sales tax on
food as part of an overall $220 million tax cut.
For higher education,
the Legislature provided ongoing funding increases for salaries,
health care benefits, fuel and power, operation and maintenance
of new facilities, the Engineering and Nursing initiatives,
information technology, institutional priorities, institutional
partnerships, translators for the hearing impaired, seismic
monitoring, libraries, the Huntsman Cancer Institute, mission
change (university status for UVSC), and student financial
aid. One-time funds were appropriated for IT equipment, seismic
monitoring, public broadcasting, course management systems,
the Engineering Initiative, the Huntsman Cancer Institute,
and student financial aid, among other things. Capital construction
funding was approved for renovation and expansion of the Nursing
College building, including a new chiller plant to serve the
upper campus. The Legislature also approved the non-state
funded Student Life Center. Details are provided in what follows
for appropriations specific to the University of Utah.
Overall Funding Change. The University’s
ongoing tax-based state funding was increased by $20.35 million
or 8.7 percent, plus funding that will come to the University
through allocations made by the Regents (shares of funds for
the Engineering Initiative, IT, translators for the hearing
impaired, and the library consortium) as well as $4 million
in new ongoing support for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
With these additions, the total increase in tax-based support
will easily exceed 11 percent. As in past years, the additional
funds are designated for specific purposes, as outlined in
Compensation. The Legislature provided funding
for a 3.5 percent cost of living increase in compensation
for all faculty and staff paid from state funds. The Legislature
provided an additional amount to the University as a whole,
equivalent to 1.5 percent of the total compensation pool,
to be used for retention of key faculty and staff. The Legislature
also provided support to partially offset increases in the
cost of the University’s health insurance premiums.
Power. The Legislature appropriated $3.45 million
in ongoing funds to cover the increased cost of fuel and power
projected for 2007-08. A much smaller amount, $229,200 was
provided as a one-time supplemental appropriation to address
current year costs.
and Maintenance. The University will be opening a
number of new facilities in 2007-08. The Legislature provided
ongoing funding of $768,700 for operating and maintaining
Engineering Initiative. The Legislature appropriated
$3 million in ongoing funding and $2 million in one-time funding
to the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) for the Engineering
Initiative, now in its seventh year. The Technology Initiative
Advisory Committee, comprised of Utah industry representatives,
will recommend to the Regents how these funds should be distributed.
In past years, the University has received a significant share
of the available funds.
Initiative. The Legislature appropriated $500,000
in ongoing funds to USHE of which $122,200 will go to the
University as part of the Nursing Initiative. These funds
will help the College of Nursing educate additional graduate
students to expand the pool of nursing faculty as well as
allow the college to expand its baccalaureate program.
Priorities. The Legislature appropriated $1,000,000
in ongoing funds to support enhancements in digital media
instruction, science education, and academic advising, all
designated by the President as institutional priorities.
Partnerships. The University has been exploring opportunities
to partner with Dixie State College (DSC) in St. George. The
Legislature appropriated $1 million in ongoing funds in support
of this effort. The University will use these funds to provide
several graduate programs at DSC.
Financial Aid. The Legislature appropriated to the
USHE ongoing funding of $2 million for need-based student
aid (UCOPE), $437,500 for New Century Scholarships, $1,200,000
for T.H. Bell scholarships, and $210,300 for a federal match,
along with one-time funding of $500,000 for the State Scholar
Initiative and $2 million for UCOPE. University students will
receive a share of these funds.
Technology. The Legislature appropriated $1,364,100
in ongoing funds to the USHE to address information technology
costs such as software licensing, along with one-time funding
of $3 million for IT equipment and $480,000 for IT course
management software. The University will receive a share of
Monitoring. The Legislature appropriated $327,000
in ongoing funds and $720,000 in one-time funds to strengthen
and expand the seismic monitoring activities conducted for
the state by University faculty and staff.
Consortium. The Utah Academic Library Consortium
received $300,000 in ongoing funding. The University’s
libraries will receive a share of these funds.
Cancer Institute. HCI received $4 million in ongoing
funds and another $10 million in one-time funds in support
of its research programs.
on Aging. The Legislature appropriated $174,500 in
ongoing funds and $5,900 in one-time funds to operate the
Commission on Aging which will be housed in the University’s
Center on Aging.
Broadcasting. KUED and KUER received $1,500,000 in
one-time funds to help pay for the conversion from analog
to digital systems.
Funding. The Legislature appropriated $13,500,000
in one-time funding for the College of Nursing remodel and
chiller plant. This will allow the College to upgrade its
systems, create more faculty offices, and build a state-of-the-art
and Fees Increase. The Regents approved a 4.0 percent
increase in tier one tuition for all USHE institutions. Combined
with tier-two and fee increases, the total cost of attending
the University will increase by 6.96 percent in 2007-08. A
large portion of the increase in tuition revenue will be used
to match tax funds allocated to compensation. The rest will
cover a variety of programmatic and staffing needs across
the University. The Legislature allocated $1,626,900 in additional
state funds to the University to reduce the student share
of the compensation increase from about 35 percent to 25 percent,
thereby returning to the ratio that was in place through most
of the 1990s.
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 them were:
1S, Residency Requirements for In-State Tuition,
sponsored by Rep. Jack Draxler, allows each USHE institution
to set a residency policy no less strict than one-year of
continuous residency and no more strict than the current 60
semester hours or three years. Passed.
Higher Education Tuition Assistance Amendments,
sponsored by Rep. Scott Wyatt, was initiated by UHEAA and
repeals some obsolete language in the code. Passed.
Repeal of Exemption from Nonresident Tuition,
sponsored by Rep. Glen Donnelson, repeals the provision that
a student is exempt from the nonresident portion of tuition
if the student attended high school in Utah for three or more
years and graduated from a Utah high school. The bill failed
to pass the House.
1S, Scott B. Lundell Tuition Waiver for National Guard
Members’ Surviving Dependents, by Rep.
Greg Hughes. Passed.
1S, Applied Technology Amendments, by Rep.
Ron Bigelow, makes the statutory change necessary to merge
the Southeast Applied Technology College with the College
of Eastern Utah as approved by the Board of Regents. Passed.
Higher Education Engineering Partnership,
by Sen. Greg Bell, authorizes a partnership between Utah State
University and Weber State University to offer bachelor’s
degrees in electrical engineering to meet demand in the state,
including at Hill Air Force Base, funded at $710,800 in ongoing
support and $865,400 in one-time money. Passed.
College and University Tuition Tax Credits,
by Sen. Greg Bell, creates a refundable tax credit of up to
$300 for taxpayers with an income of $30,000 or less for tuition
and fees paid to a USHE institution. Passed.
Utah Valley University Institutional Name Change,
by Sen. John Valentine, changes the name of Utah Valley State
College to Utah Valley University (effective 2008), funded
at $8 million in ongoing support. Passed.
Income Tax Credit for Educational Savings Plan,
by Sen. Greg Bell, provides for an income tax credit for Utah
Educational Savings Plan (UESP) contributions in the flat-tax
income tax. Passed.
1S, Higher Education—Concealed Weapons Restrictions,
by Sen. Greg Bell, is the result of sustained efforts by a
working group, legislative leadership, and higher education
officials. Current law prohibits anyone from bringing a firearm
onto any campus in the state with a few narrow exceptions
including concealed weapons holders. This new law allows residents
of college dormitories to choose not to live with a person
who has a concealed weapons permit. A person must be 21 years
old to get a permit. Passed.
For more information
about specific bills, legislative membership, or committees,
see the legislative Web site at http://legislature.utah.gov.