The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee
The subcommittee met twice this week, hearing from seven of the eight USHE presidents. Each president advocated the Board of Regents’ unified budget priorities, highlighted notable accomplishments and provided compelling arguments of the critical need for increased state funding at their institutions.
The subcommittee, as directed by the Executive Appropriations Committee, advanced three major adjustments to the base budget of higher education (current budgeted funds):
- Adopt new performance measure for all 52 line items of the higher education budget (detailed here). These metrics were compiled by the Legislative Fiscal Analyst and are not associated with the performance funding model adopted by the Board of Regents in 2015.
- Adjust the funding mix of state funds vs. tuition funds that have funded compensation costs in higher education. For over twenty years, the Legislature and public higher education have held constant the ratio funding compensation costs at 75% from state funds and 25% of tuition funds. The proposal this year, originally presented by the Legislative Fiscal Analyst in September 2016, and now being advanced by the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, would adjust this ratio for compensation to follow the present overall mix of state dollars and tuition dollars currently funding higher education – which has been about 50% state funds and 50% tuition for the past few years. This adjustment would result in a $7 million budget cut in state funds to higher education.
- Cut the overall higher education budget 2%. Across-the-board cuts like this have been used in recent years to identify potential funds for reallocation. However, such proposals have not been advanced by the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee since 2011. This cut would result in a $6 million loss to public higher education.
While it is hoped the 75% state funds to 25% tuition mix for compensation will be retained this year, and the 2 percent cuts restored, these proposals add to the challenge of increasing state funding for critical higher education needs in the state.
The subcommittee will also be discussing various issues related to higher education including transferability of lower-division credit, career and technical education and stackable credentials. The subcommittee is scheduled to meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:00 AM. The agendas and meeting materials are available here.
Commissioner Buhler and Chair Campbell presented the building priorities of the State Board of Regents to the Infrastructure Subcommittee this week. Specific presentations from institutions are also underway through next week. The agendas and meeting materials are available here.
Legislation of Interest
HB 100, Institutions of Higher Education Disclosure Requirements, by Rep. Kim Coleman requires institutions of higher education to disclose information including job placement, wage earnings and average student debt programs at USHE institutions. The bill unanimously passed the House Education Committee and awaits further consideration by the full House.
HB 249, Higher Education Financial Literacy Amendments, by Rep. Robert Spendlove requires USHE institutions to notify students annually of their current student loan balance and projected payments. USHE is working with the sponsor on the implementation details of this proposal and currently is in the House Rules Committee awaiting a standing committee assignment.
HB 251, Campus Advocate Confidentiality Amendments, by Rep. Angela Romero prohibits the disclosure of confidential communications related to advocacy services at a Utah institution of higher education. The legislation would prevent institutions or law enforcement from disclosing certain confidential information reported by students unless otherwise required by specific state or federal statute. The bill awaits its first House Standing Committee hearing.
**HB 275, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act Amendments, by Rep. Brian Green removes the exemption for higher education from Administrative Rulemaking Act for policies related to students. Currently, there are almost 15,000 policies maintained by the Board of Regents and USHE institutions that would need to be reviewed and submitted for administrative rulemaking. The bill awaits its first House Standing Committee hearing.
*HCR 16, Concurrent Resolution Declaring Mental Health Issues To Be A Public Health Crisis At Utah Higher Education Institutions, by Rep. Ed Redd declares mental health issues to be a public health crisis at Utah higher education institutions. It strongly urges state agencies, local health authorities, non-profit groups, and higher education entities to seek productive, long-term solutions to address this crisis. The bill awaits its first House Standing Committee hearing.
*SB 35, Veterans Tuition Gap Program Act Amendments, by Sen. Escamilla amends the federal programs to which the Veterans Tuition Gap Program (the program) relates and removes the requirement that a qualifying veteran using the program qualify for a federal program. The bill unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate.
*SB 117 (1st Sub.), Performance Funding Revisions, by Sen. Ann Millner provides ongoing funding dedicated to the performance outcomes proposed by the Board of Regents and adopted by the Legislature in 2015. The bill received unanimous support of the Senate Education Committee and awaits further consideration by the full Senate.