Report on the 2011 Legislative Session

The 2011 legislative session has officially concluded after passing significant legislation relating to immigration and the budget. Although higher education was initially told to prepare for a 7 percent budget cut, thanks to the efforts of President Michael K. Young and our University advocates, the cut was ultimately reduced to 2 percent.  

Overall Funding Change:  The impact of budget cuts will vary across campus. In the main, however, the combined effect of the legislative cuts, enrollment increases and tuition increases will mean that 2011-12 budgets will differ only slightly from 2010-11 budgets for most units.  

Compensation: No funding was appropriated for increases in compensation, either for salaries or benefits. After two years of little to no increases, the cost of health insurance premiums will be going up significantly next year. The increase, 18 percent, will be borne proportionately by employees and the University.  The University, using increased revenues from tuition, will provide funding for modest, selective salary increases.  

Operation and Maintenance (O&M):  The University previously received the O&M needed to operate the new Utah Museum of Natural History (UMNH) facility for the five months during fiscal 2011. During this session, the Legislature provided funding for the remaining seven months, enabling the UMNH to operate for the full year in fiscal year (FY) 2012.  O&M funding was also approved for the Annette Poulson Cumming Nursing Building for FY 2012. Funding has been set aside to cover anticipated O&M costs for the new business school building when it opens its doors. 

Student Financial Aid: Legislation was passed that revamps and replaces Utah’s need-based financial aid program “UCOPE” with “Success Stipends.” The Legislature also approved an ongoing increase for the Regents’ and New Century Scholarships to fully fund them for 2011-12 at a flat rate of $1,250 per semester.

USTAR: After cutting USTAR’s budget, both base and one-time, in fiscal 2011, and threatening to do more of the same for fiscal 2012, the Legislature ultimately reduced the ongoing costs related to the search for professors by $493,400 and provided a one-time backfill of $540,500 from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

Funding Initiatives: Approval for one-time funding was granted to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in the amount of $1.3 million; and to KUER for $85,000 for the station’s upcoming translator move.

Capital Funding: The Legislature approved general obligation bonds for new buildings at Weber State University, Utah State University, and $3 million for a Salt Lake Community College land-bank in Herriman. The University of Utah requested $50 million to address serious infrastructure concerns but no funding was given. 

Tuition and Fees: At its March 25, 2011 meeting, the Regents are expected to approve a 5 percent increase in tier‑one tuition for all Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) institutions. Combined with a requested 2.8 percent tier-two increase and fee increases averaging 7.8 percent, the cost of attending the University will increase by 7.8 percent in 2011-12, if approved by the Regents. Revenue from the tier-one increase will be used primarily to cover increases in health insurance premiums and to provide some money for selective salary raises. Revenue from the tier-two increase will be used to address a variety of needs in academic, service, and administrative areas.

Non-State Building Projects Approved: The following building projects do not require state funding, but were approved:

  1. South Jordan Medical Center
  2. Expansion of the Dee Glen Smith Athletic Center
  3. New parking structure for the Ambulatory Care Complex
  4. University of Utah Health Care Medical Services Building


Other legislation of interest to the University community

    • HB 57, Joint Professional School of Veterinary Medicine, by Rep. John Mathis, provides $1.7 million in funding for a joint veterinary medicine program between Utah State University and Washington State University. Passed.
    • HB 75 1S, Dangerous Weapon Amendments, by Rep. Curt Oda, eliminates a 1,000 foot buffer zone around K-12 schools and colleges for carrying weapons. Passed.


    • HB 116 S3, Guest Worker Program Act, by Rep. Bill Wright. One provision of this bill expands the eligibility of students who can qualify for resident tuition to children of guest workers when (or if) the program goes into effect in 2013. Passed.


    • HB 138 S1, Federal Receipts Reporting Requirements, by Rep. Ken Ivory, requires additional reporting and legislative oversight of federal funds, in the aggregate, including those going to higher education institutions. Passed.
    • HB 191 S1, Nonresident Tuition Waiver Amendments, by Rep. Carl Wimmer, as amended, changes the law allowing students who attended and graduated from a Utah high school resident tuition regardless of their immigration status, to provide evidence that they or a parent or legal guardian paid Utah income taxes during the previous three years. Failed


    • HB 206, Special Group License Plate Amendments, by Rep. Wayne Harper, as amended, raises the threshold for special license plates before they can be issued with an effective date of 2012. Passed.


    • HB 288, Concurrent Enrollment Transcripts, by Rep. Ronda Menlove, requires the State Board of Education and State Board of Regents to coordinate advising and reporting of certain information by the State Board of Regents. Passed.


    • HB 307, Public Broadcasting Funding, by Rep. Chris Herrod, requires the University of Utah to report on certain financial information related to its public television station. Failed.
    • HB 335, Military Survivors—Tuition Waiver Amendments, by Rep. Michael Morley, removes the residency requirement for a surviving dependent of a member of the Utah National Guard who is killed on active duty to receive a tuition waiver for undergraduate study. Passed.�
    • HB 485, Higher Education Tenure, by Rep. Chris Herrod, would have prohibited USHE institutions from offering tenure-track positions or new tenure after July 1, 2011. Failed.�
    • HB 498, Inmate Health Issues Amendments, by Rep. Paul Ray, would have designated the University of Utah Medical Center as the health care facility to provide medical care for inmates in the Department of Corrections custody. The department would pay a flat yearly rate of $2.5 million to the University of Utah Medical Center instead of the current policy. Failed.
    • HJR 37, State Spending Limitations, by Rep. Carl Wimmer, is a proposed amendment to the state constitution which would freeze spending at current levels, making it impossible to educate more students. Failed.


    •  HJR 42, Higher Education’s 2020 Plan, by Rep. Brad Dee, endorses the Board of Regents’ 2020 Plan. It was introduced too late to receive a committee hearing. Failed.
    • SB 46, Higher Education Residency Requirements, by Sen. Margaret Dayton, reaffirms current law and policy to enable a dependent of an active duty member of the U.S. military to obtain residency for tuition by providing a copy of the state of legal residence certificate showing it is Utah. Passed.
    • SB 69, Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Textbooks for Higher Education, by Sen. Karen Mayne, extends the current sales tax exemption for textbooks to private providers if more than half their sales are for textbooks. Passed.
    • SB 97, Higher Education Mission-Based Funding, by Sen. Steve Urquhart, implements the recommendations of the USHE Mission-Based Funding Task Force by providing a way for new appropriations to institutions based on both enrollment growth and strategic initiatives as identified by Regent priorities and university presidents. Passed.
    • SB 145, Utah Educational Savings Plan Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, makes some statutory modifications to help the plan continue to be nationally competitive. Passed.�
    • SB 210, Utah Post-secondary Proprietary School Act Amendments, by Sen. Curt Bramble, provides additional authority to the Utah Department of Commerce to implement new regulations by the U.S. Department of Education relating to proprietary colleges. It does not impact USHE institutions. Passed.�
    • SB 305 S2, Economic Development through Education/Career Alignment, by Sen. Howard Stephenson, supports and builds upon which is a collaboration of public education, higher education, and Workforce Services. It establishes a web-based online education and career counseling program. Passed.
    • SCR 11, Dixie State College Concurrent Resolution, by Sen. Steve Urquhart, recognizes the centennial of Dixie State College and expresses support for its eventual mission change to become a regional state university as per the Regents’ 2020 strategic plan. Passed.
    • SJR 9, Governance of Public and Higher Education, by Sen. Stuart Reid, is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would eliminate the State Board of Education from the constitution and vest governance of both public and higher education in the governor as provided by statute. Failed. 


For more information about specific bills, legislative membership, or committees, please visit the Utah Legislature online.

5 Responses to Report on the 2011 Legislative Session

  • Linda Wrathall says:

    This is the third year of no increases to our salary. And to add insult to injury, next year the insurance will go up 18%, seriously? That adds insult to injury! We can’t even keep up with the rising costs of gas, food at the grocery store, utilities and housing.

  • Anna says:

    And I know of at least two lower campus departments that are hiring new senior level faculty despite the supposed hiring freeze and lack of salary increase for existing faculty and staff.

  • Valerie Horton says:

    You may not be getting a raise, but you have a job. That is more than most people. Be greatful for that.

    There are legitimate reasons some departments are able to hire during a hiring freeze.

  • clyde nelson says:

    I’d like to know who is getting the special case increase in salaries. It most likely won’t be one of the worker bees.

  • Hogan says:

    I have two employees that I am about to lose. If I could just bring them up to the level of pay that new hires are being paid, I could keep them. But their pay was frozen three years ago at the base rate, they can’t live on that anymore. I’m losing two good employees and what does the University gain if I have to hire those positions back at the higher rate? My boss freaks out if I suggest that we fire them just to hire them back at the decent wage.

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