Special Report On The 2001 Legislative Session
The 2001 Utah legislative session was generally positive for
higher education. A strong economy and the recognition of the need to make a
greater investment in education resulted in significant increases in funding
for Utah’s colleges and universities.
Increased state investment in higher education grew out of
a concern by the governor and Legislature that both the Utah and national economies
are beginning to cool. A greater investment in higher education was seen as
a strategy to help Utah better position itself for the post-Olympic economy.
Highlights include an unprecedented $156 million state investment in higher
education capital facilities and salary equity, a top priority for the Utah
System of Higher Education (USHE), which got a $4.5 million boost from legislators.
In its Appropriations
Act (HB 1), the Legislature provided ongoing funding increases for both
new and existing students, salaries and salary-related benefits, health and
dental benefits, salary equity, libraries, technology, student financial aid,
operations and maintenance of new facilities, ADA accommodations, and several
internal service items.
One-time funding will provide support for libraries, information
technology, the engineering and technology initiative, the School of Medicine,
and student financial aid. The state also recognized the enormous increases
in fuel and power costs with significant new one-time funding.
As good as it was, this year’s USHE budget did not fund all
of higher education’s needs, including fully funding the new formula, campus
computer support, libraries, the School of Medicine, and other priorities. Competing
state demands, as well as a $24.5 million tax cut and another $20 million for
an education savings plan in anticipation of future growth in public education,
took significant dollars off the table. Nonetheless, an increase of nearly $69
million, or 12.8 percent, in operating funds for higher education compares favorably
with a 7 percent increase last year and a 5.3 percent increase two years ago.
Here’s a summary of how the University of Utah fared this year:
The compensation package for faculty and staff consists of
a 4 percent increase in salaries and salary-related benefits (such as the retirement
contribution), an increase in funds to offset higher costs for medical and dental
insurance, and $1.4 million for salary equity adjustments. The Legislature also
converted $276,000 of one-time compensation funding received last year to ongoing
The University experienced robust enrollment growth in all
three academic terms this year. That growth was the basis for a substantial
request for additional funding for fiscal year 2002. The Legislature appropriated
a total of $5,366,600 in tax funds to the U, which amounts to 43 percent of
the $12.4 million in total growth funding for the USHE. Of that amount, the
School of Medicine received $376,000 with the rest going to support the general
instructional and operating costs of the University. The amount of funding for
enrollment growth, while large, was only 78 percent of the request. Funding
for the remaining amount will be sought next year.
While enrollment growth was the dominant component of the Regents’
new formula funding approach, the University also received ongoing funding of
$192,500 for existing student support and $41,900 for funding equity, a general
Governor Leavitt requested $10 million for the first year of
funding for his engineering initiative, which is intended to increase the capacity
of the engineering and computer science programs. The Legislature appropriated
$1 million in ongoing funding and $3 million in one-time funding of that request.
The funds will be allocated by a new Technology Initiative Advisory Committee,
composed of Utah industry representatives. The University will receive an as
yet undetermined share of this funding. The technology initiative also helped
fund a number of new buildings on Utah campuses (see below).
Of the $3 million in one-time support, the Legislature earmarked
$500,000 to fund a loan forgiveness program for engineering and computer science
majors who work in the state for four years following graduation. This program
will benefit students pursuing baccalaureate degrees in engineering, computer
science, or related technologies.
Compared to prior years, the Legislature appropriated an extraordinary
amount of funding for new buildings for higher education in its 2001 General
Obligation Bond and Capital Facilities Authorizations (SB 2). Nine such projects
shared $155.8 million in funding. Of that total, the University received $15
million for a new engineering building, $4,613,000 to renovate the Merrill Engineering
building, and $5 million for the Huntsman Clinical Research Hospital. The funding
for engineering buildings was in response to the governor’s engineering initiative,
as was funding for many of the projects at other schools.
The Legislature also approved five non-state-funded capital
projects for eventual construction at the University. Three of those projects
received approval for operations and maintenance support from the state: the
Emma Eccles Jones Medical Sciences Building ($133,000), the Moran Eye Center
Phase II ($660,000), and the Utah Museum of Natural History ($382,500). The
other two projects receiving approval were the expansion of University Hospital
and construction of the Huntsman Clinical Research Hospital. The Legislature
approved a $100 million, 20-year bond to finance construction of the new cancer
research hospital. The Huntsman Research Foundation will fund 60 percent of
the debt repayment and the University will assume 40 percent to be funded from
state appropriations, federal appropriations, tobacco settlement funds, and
The Legislature also provided $2.1 million in supplemental,
one-time funding to assist with the cost of digital conversion for KUED Channel
7 and KULC Channel 9.
The Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC) received $1,070,000
in funding this year. Of this amount, about two-thirds is ongoing and one-third
is one-time support. The funds will be allocated by the UALC Directors’ Council.
Price-increase funding for library collections, increased funding for electronic
books and journals, and additional funding for the statewide document delivery
service are included in the priorities for this funding. The portion of the
total amount to be allocated to the U’s three libraries will be known later
The University received $1 million in one-time funding for
our information technology infrastructure, which will be used to upgrade the
network connections across campus, and $1,362,900 in one-time funding to enhance
administrative data processing systems and to support technology-assisted instruction.
The Regents office also received $250,000 to study higher education information
technology needs in anticipation of a request for additional funding next year.
The University requested $2.4 million for increased fuel and
power costs incurred in the current year and received supplemental, one-time
funding of $1,631,200 for this purpose. The University also requested $3.3 million
for projected increases in fuel and power costs for the coming year, and received
$1,828,600 of that amount in one-time funding. The University also received
a base funding increase of $129,300 to cover increases in water costs. The explosive
growth in fuel and power costs continues to be a major concern for the U and
For the first time in many years, the University sought increased
state support for the School of Medicine. In response, the Legislature provided
new, one-time funding of $1.5 million. The School of Medicine’s rural health
education program (AHEC) also received $1.3 million in one-time funding, which
will allow it to qualify for continued federal support and to establish a state-wide
The University received ongoing funding for operating and maintaining
the Utah Museum of Fine Arts ($76,900) and the Cowles Building Math Center ($28,200).
University was allocated additional ongoing funding of $40,700 for hazardous
waste removal, $78,800 for ADA accommodations and vocational rehabilitation
replacement, and $20,000 for the Regional Dental Education Program. The Legislature
also converted $84,600 of one-time funding for operations and maintenance received
last year to ongoing funding, and increased funding for insurance premiums ($227,200
for risk liability, $17,200 for risk property) and for increased motor pool
costs ($1,700). The legislature appropriated an additional $25,000 in on-going
funds to be used for the Museum of Fine Arts.
Along with students throughout the state, University students
will benefit from the $1,366,000 appropriated to the USHE for additional, ongoing
funding for UCOPE, the state’s need-based student financial aid program. The
Legislature also appropriated ongoing funding increases for the New Century
Scholarship program ($65,000) and for maintaining the student aid base ($310,000),
and added some additional one-time funding for student aid ($400,000), all of
which are administered as part of statewide programs.
Prior to the legislative session, the Regents approved a 4
percent increase in tuition. The Regents will meet on March 16 to decide whether
that level of increase is adequate, given the results of the session. The University
is also considering the possibility of a second-tier tuition increase which,
if pursued, will be discussed at the March 16 meeting, as well.
Among the hundreds of bills filed this year the USHE tracked
dozens of them for possible impact on higher education. Among them were:
Technology Initiative (HB 34) FAILED
This act would have provided $40 million for the establishment
of a new applied technology education governance structure for Utah, including
the creation of a Utah College of Applied Technology and regional satellites
throughout the state. This issue may be taken up again in a special legislative
session later this spring.
Quality Amendments (SB 16) PASSED
The bill clarifies the Board of Regents’ administrative authority
over the T.H. Bell Teaching Incentive Loan Program.
in Mandarin Chinese in Public Schools (SB 53) PASSED
This act modifies provisions related to the State System of
Public Education by allowing the State Board of Education and the State Board
of Regents to develop and implement a concurrent enrollment course on Mandarin
Chinese to be taught over EDNET. This new program goes into affect at once.
Skills Development Center (HB99) PASSED
This bill changes the Reading Skills Development Center into
a clinic to assist educators and parents of students in assessing elementary
school students who do not demonstrate satisfactory progress in reading. The
act requires the clinic to provide professional development programs in reading
to help educators and parents become better prepared to assist all students
in becoming better readers. A one-time appropriation of $450,000 will be used
to fund the Reading Clinic.
Wavers for Teachers (HB 211) PASSED
The bill grants tuition waivers to educators for courses taken
at higher education institutions that satisfy professional development requirements
if surplus space is available. The act takes effect July 1, 2001.
in Tuition Bill (SB 210) PASSED
This act requires higher education institutions to hold a public
meeting prior to increasing tuition rates. The act details the procedures to
be followed for the meeting, including publication of a notice and the information
to be supplied to those at the meeting.
Exemption for Meals (HB 126) PASSED
This act responds in the affirmative to a request from the
USHE that student meal packages be exempt from sales tax.