2017 Legislative Update – Week 6

2017-2018 Budget

The Executive Appropriations Committee approved its first round of funding items on Friday. For higher education, initial items include:

  • Compensation: 2% labor market adjustment increase (plus funding for health insurance rate increases), with the ratio of funding at 75% from state funds and 25% of tuition funds.
  • Student Enrollment Growth: $3.5 million ongoing for new student growth for the current year. This is the first time in a number of years that student growth in higher education has been explicitly funded (with the exception of Acute Equity funding appropriated by the Legislature in 2014).
  • Performance Funding: $6.5 million ongoing for performance funding. This is the initial funding tied to SB117 that will codify the performance funding model of the Board of Regents, which has been in place for four years.
  • Regents’ Scholarship: $8 million ongoing for growth in the Regents’ Scholarship. For several years, growth in the program has been funded on one-time funds. This ongoing funding, along with the changes being proposed in SB256, will help ensure long-term sustainability.
  • 2% Base Budget Replacement: Earlier in the 2017 session, the Legislature approved a 2% base budget cut to higher education – a cut of $19.2 million. Last week’s approval restores those cuts back to the higher education base budget.

2017-2018 Capital Development

The top three Regents’ capital development priorities were approved: the Medical Education and Discovery / Rehabilitation Hospital (UU), the Human Performance Center (DSU), and the Social Science Building Renovation (WSU). Funding for the UU project is phased in over three years and the DSU and WSU projects are phased in over two years. Also approved was an increase in capital improvement funds for state facilities.

Efforts continue this week as the budget is finalized and bills continue their march to the end of the Legislative Session at midnight Thursday, March 9, 2017.  Recent news on the budget is available from the Salt Lake Tribune.


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 and Senate, awaits final concurrence by the House due to amendments made in the Senate.

*HB 249 (1st Sub.), Higher Education Financial Literacy Amendments, by Rep. Robert Spendlove requires higher education to annually notify students who have taken out a loan for college directing them to their loan balance as well as a repayment calculator. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

*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 bill passed the Senate Judiaciary Committee and awaits final consideration by the full Senate.

**HB 284, Student Right to Active Counsel, by Rep. Kim Coleman introduced similar legislation in the 2016 Session. The Legislature ultimately did not adopt the proposed legislation. In July 2016, the Board of Regents adopted policy that outlines required due process for disciplinary actions and included the role of active counsel in certain proceedings. This bill is unnecessary given the policy already adopted. The bill awaits consideration by the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee.

HB 326, Campus Sexual Violence Protection Act, by Rep. Kim Coleman allows an institution of higher education to report an allegation of sexual violence to a law enforcement agency and enacts other provisions related to the duties of an institution of higher education in circumstances related to sexual violence. The bill failed in a vote by the full House.

*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 received unanimous legislative support by the House and Senate and is expected to be signed by the Governor.

*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 and awaits further consideration by the House Education Committee.

SB 194 (5th Sub.), Utah Data Research Center Act), by Sen. Jacob Anderegg establishes the Utah Data Research Center to coordinate data-centric initiatives between the Utah System of Higher Education, K-12, the Utah Department of Workforce Services and the Department of Health. The Commissioner’s Office already provides substantial data coordination and services regarding student performance and workforce. The bill has passed the full Senate and awaits further consideration by the House.

SB 238, Higher Education Governance Revisions, by Sen. Ann Millner changes the name of UCAT (to Utah System of Technical Colleges and of individual campuses to technical colleges) and makes several significant changes to the governance of public higher education in Utah. The legislation clarifies the roles and mission of the Board of Regents and Boards of Trustees and changes how Regents are appointed by the Governor. The legislation also changes how new academic programs are approved, codifies how presidential searches are to be conducted, and defines the primary missions of USHE institutions. The Commissioner and the Board’s Executive committee have worked closely with the bill sponsor on clarifying amendments. The bill received unanimous support of the Senate and awaits consideration by the House Economic Development & Workforce Services Committee.

*SB 256, Regents Scholarship Amendments, by Sen. Lyle Hillyard makes major administrative changes to the scholarship program to improve the student application experience as well as enhance coordination with institutions the award recipients attend. This will ensure better use of state aid resources as well as create an overall better experience for students. This legislation does not alter or weaken the existing academic requirements for the scholarship. It also removes extensive outdated language in the statute. The bill received unanimous support by the Senate and awaits consideration by the House Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee.


* 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/