2016 Legislative Update – Week 3

Higher Education Budget

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee met for its final scheduled hearing this week, focusing on the Board of Regents’ budget priorities for USHE. The committee also considered other budget requests from other legislative sponsors. After the Board’s budget priorities by Chair Dan Campbell and Commissioner Buhler, Senator Howard Stephenson commented, “To the Board of Regents, you have done a remarkable job in selecting our presidents of our institutions. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

Sen. Stephen Urquhart, Co-chair of the Subcommittee concluded, “I’ve been up here sixteen years, it’s been a lot of fun working on bills.  But, overall, the thing I’ve consistently been able to work on is higher ed. It’s just been the greatest overall pleasure and privilege I’ve had.” Senator Urquhart has co-chaired this committee for the past six years. He, along with subcommittee members Rep. Jack Draxler and Rep. Kay McIff have announced their retirement from legislative service at the end of their terms in 2016.

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee ranked most of the Board of Regents’ top priorities—Compensation, Market Demand Programs, and Performance Funding—three of the Regents’ top four priorities (UCAT is ranked separately). Unfortunately, USHE’s second priority—Access and Affordability—was not ranked by the committee. This priority is meant to help accommodate new students without relying more on tuition to pay the associated costs. 

PriorityRequestAmount
13% Compensation Increase $24,474,400
27.3% Health Insurance Premium Increase $7,859,200
3Market Demand Programs $10,000,000
4Performance Based Funding $15,000,000
5DSU & UU Health Care Partnership $1,500,000
6Strategic Workforce Investments $2,550,000
7Huntsman Cancer $2,240,000
8UALC $750,000
9UU Dental School $1,600,000
10Statewide Program - Regents' Scholarship $8,000,000
11Accelerated Foreign Language Course $300,000
12Boys/Girls State $50,000
13Student Athlete Graduation Improvement $1,300,000
14Opioid Risk Assessment $75,000
15Utah Campus Compact $30,000
16Law for U $500,000
17Utah Poison Control $626,600
TOTAL $76,855,200

These recommendations will be advanced to the Executive Appropriations Committee along with recommendations from the other nine appropriations subcommittee in the formulation of the state’s FY 2017 budget of new revenues. Further budget action is not expected until new revenue figures are announced on February 22.

Capital Development

The Infrastructure and General Government Committee also prioritized the state’s capital development requests including the following USHE priorities: CTE Center at Westpointe – SLCC (2), Business Building – SUU (4), Biological Science Building – USU (5), Social Science Building – WSU (6), Performing Arts Center – UVU (7), Medical Center – UU (8), Human Performance/Wellness Ctr. – DSU (12). Additional detail available online here.


Key Legislation of Interest to USHE

HB 107, Early College High Schools by Rep. Val Peterson distinguishes an early college high school from a regular public school. Utah’s early college high schools operate in partnership with seven USHE institutions. The bill passed unanimously in the House Education Committee and awaits further consideration by the House.

*HB 182, Concurrent Enrollment Amendments by Rep. Val Peterson, is a joint effort with the Utah State Office of Education to clarify the statute relating to concurrent enrollment. The legislation primarily combines and clarifies several sections of statute to better define the program, it creates a statewide participation form, and defines qualifications for teaching concurrent enrollment math courses. The bill passed unanimously in the House Education Committee and awaits further consideration by the House.

HB 204, Capital Development and Capital Improvement Project Amendments by Rep. Brad Wilson increases the percentage of the replacement cost of existing state facilities and infrastructure to capital improvements that the Legislature has to appropriate from 1.1% to 1.5%. USHE receives approximately 2/3 of the funds appropriated to capital improvement each year for remodel and improvements to existing infrastructure. This bill awaits consideration by the House Business and Labor Committee.

*HB 254, Resident Student Tuition Amendments by Rep. Marie Poulson makes a technical change so that USHE institutions may grant resident tuition status to military servicemembers and their immediate family members who may be assigned out of state who maintain domicile in Utah. The bill awaits a house committee hearing.

HB 262, Campus Anti-Harassment Act by Rep. Kim Coleman defines discriminatory harassment and stipulates that an institution of higher education must take action against discriminatory harassment immediately after gaining actual knowledge of the act. An institution may not punish, as discriminatory harassment, student-on-student speech that does not constitute discriminatory harassment unless the speech is protected under the 1st amendment. USHE institutions and the Commissioner’s Office have raised concerns regarding the apparent conflicts with federal law and practical implementation, and are working with the sponsor for possible solutions. This bill awaits consideration by the House judiciary Committee.

*SB 103, Strategic Workforce Investments by Sen. Ann Millner creates an incentive fund for partnership initiatives with higher education institutions and employers to develop programs that have a defined set of stackable credentials. Initiatives must align to one or more of the state’s economic development clusters as defined by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Initiative funds will be appropriated under the direction of the Executive Appropriations Committee of the Legislature. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Committee and awaits further consideration by the House.

SB 139, Board of Education Approval Amendments by Sen Howard Stephenson This directs the State Board of Ed to designate an employee to engage in monitoring and other conduct related to teacher preparation programs at USHE institutions. It is anticipated the bill will be amended to ensure active involvement of Deans of Education at USHE institutions. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate Education Committee and awaits further consideration by the House.

SB 152, Accelerated Foreign Language Course Amendments by Sen. Howard Stephenson requires the University of Utah to develop concurrent enrollment courses for accelerated foreign language students; and provides certain exceptions for an upper level foreign language course to qualify for concurrent enrollment funding. This bill awaits consideration by the Education Committee.

*SCR 6, Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the 20th Anniversary of the Utah Educational Savings Plan by Sen. Evan Vickers expresses support from the Legislature and the Governor for the Utah Educational Savings Plan, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016. The resolution passed unanimously in the Senate Education Committee and is scheduled for further consideration by the Senate on Monday, February 7 at 11:30 AM.

**SJR 4, Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution – Education Funding by Sen. Jim Dabakis is a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have removed all education funds from the USHE budget. USHE opposed the legislation and the Board of Regents formally took a position against the resolution at its January Board mtg. The resolution has been assigned to the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee. Senator Dabakis has assured the Commissioner that he supports new revenue to replace any cuts from education funds to higher education.


* 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/