Special Report On The 2001 Legislative Session

March 9, 2001

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


Enrollment Growth

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.

Other Formula Funding

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

purpose category.

Engineering Initiative

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.

Capital Funding

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

clinical income.

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

this spring.

Information Technology

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

the USHE.

School of Medicine

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


Other Operations Funding

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.


Financial Aid

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.

Tuition Increase

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.

Legislation of Interest to the University


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.