President Holland’s 2011 legislative wrap-up
Now that the 2011 legislative session has come to a close, I want to give you a brief report on how UVU and higher education fared this year.
The session began with the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee cutting all USHE budgets by 7 percent. The university presidents, USHE and the UVU legislative team worked aggressively trying to get the cuts reduced. Their efforts paid off, and the legislature restored 5 percent to all USHE institutions, leaving a 2 percent tax fund reduction, totaling, in UVU’s case, $1.2 million. The Cabinet will be meeting shortly to determine how best to manage the decreased funds. Though any kind of cut presents challenges for us in this time of growth, I am gratified that the shortage was not any higher and that we have been budgeting conservatively so as to greatly minimize the impact of such.
SB5: Approved bonding for the Student Life and Wellness Building and Parking Structure. We will now move full speed ahead with programming and hope to break ground in 10-12 months. (Read about the plans for the Student Life and Wellness Building in Bob Rasmussen’s blog post)
HB 485: Would have eliminated tenure for new faculty hired at Utah’s institutions of higher education after July 1, 2011. The bill died in committee, thanks to aggressive lobbying by many people. I went on statewide radio to publicly state my opposition to this bill.
SB 97: Mission Based Funding was one of USHE’s top priority bills. UVU supported the bill with a registered concern that the bill did not include any provision to address equity funding issues or funding of past enrollment growth. When the bill reached the Senate floor, Senator John Valentine added an amendment that included a phrase directing Regents to fund budget inequities at the same time they implement mission based funding. The bill was further amended in the House through the leadership of Speaker Becky Lockhart with a clause directing the Regents to consider funding “historical unfunded growth.”
HB 191 and HB116, S3: A couple of efforts to eliminate or change in-state tuition for undocumented students that received significant publicity. In the end, the law remains unchanged: those students that attend three years of, and graduate from, high school in Utah may receive in-state tuition at USHE institutions.
SB6: This bill requires a 90 percent employer and 10 percent employee medical premium share. Further, it reduces UVU’s tax funds, essentially implementing—in its original form—an additional budget cut of 1.25%. Concerned about the effects of this bill, I traveled to the Capitol to meet with legislators and the Governor. Subsequently, thanks to some great efforts by Speaker Becky Lockhart, Senators Valentine and Dayton with support from our Utah County legislators, an additional $1.5 million was restored to USHE’s budgets in SB3 and a last-minute bill (HB 427) assured that the cuts imposed by SB6 and reduced by SB3 will be equally shared among the USHE institutions. This effort reduced the impact to UVU’s tax funds from 1.25% to roughly 0.6%.
President’s Cabinet is studying this collection of legislation and working the numbers to determine the full impact of the changes in our medical premium share and tax fund support. Be assured that we are exploring every option available to minimize the overall impact of SB6 on our employees and institution. As the budget picture becomes clearer, further information will be shared.
I am thankful for a great UVU administrative team that worked tirelessly throughout this process to ensure that UVU’s interests were well represented. I similarly want to express appreciation for all employees who expressed their concerns to legislators with civility and good argument as well as for the members of the Utah County legislative delegation who supported UVU so well on a variety of issues. We came out of the session having achieved most of our key legislative priorities. We are also positioned well for the future when state revenues improve.
As always, thank you for making UVU a wonderful place to work.
— President Matthew S. Holland