The pleas are over. Now the Higher Education Joint Appropriations Subcommittee will have its say.
After a month of extensive budget hearings, where they repeatedly made pleas for more tax dollars to boost needy programs, college presidents and other higher-education officials will have to sit back this week while legislators work out their budget recommendations.Beginning Monday, the subcommittee will take four days to decide the financial fate of the state's nine colleges and universities before passing their recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee. The higher-education budget is about one-fifth of the state's total budget.
Subcommittee chairman, Sen. Richard Carling, R-Salt Lake, who has served on the subcommittee for 18 years, said it's difficult to predict the outcome, although he doubts higher education will receive the 8.4 percent increase in state funds, or $21.8 million, that it wants.
"I think the regents have acted very responsibly, but we can't give them everything they've asked for. I'd like to, but the dollars aren't there," Carling said.
While not pinpointing a specific amount, Carling said he believes the figure will be similar to the governor's recommendation although the money will be allocated differently.
Gov. Norm Bangerter's recommendation - a $10.8 million increase or 4.16 percent - is half of the regents' request. The legislative analyst has recommended a $10.4 million increase or 4.02 percent.
In arriving at their recommendations, the legislators will have to decide several major funding issues:
-Will mandated costs, specifically employee benefits, be funded? The governor recommended funding only half of the $3 million increase in employee benefits. The legislative analyst wants the employee benefits funded at 100 percent but suggested offsetting that increase with savings from fuel and power.
The institutions want the benefits fully covered but they also view use of fuel and power savings as a budget cut. The 1988 Legislature agreed that the colleges and universities could reallocate any savings from fuel and power to other institutional needs. The U., for example, used $670,000 of its savings for instructional computing and $217,000 to increase library acquisitions.
-Will faculty receive their first pay raise in three years? Higher education wants a 4.5 percent salary increase. The college presidents reported that faculty are leaving because their salaries are 20 percent below peers at comparable, out-of-state institutions.
The governor recommended a 3 percent raise for all state employees. The legislative analyst, who didn't make a salary recommendation, reported that a 4.5 percent increase would cost $9.2 million.
Carling said that legislative leadership has asked that salary recommendations be delayed until the state revenue projections are made in mid-February. But he said faculty and staff shouldn't count on a pay raise larger than other state employees. "Politically, it isn't in the cards," he said.
-Should enrollment growth be funded based on actual enrollment or projections? The colleges are unhappy with the governor's recommendation, which funds student enrollment according to current enrollment, not on the traditional method of using projections. Colleges officials say they have restricted growth because of funding problems and such a shift in enrollment funding will force them to turn away even more students.
-Should the colleges, particularly the U. and Utah State University, be allowed to keep reimbursement for overhead expenses received with their research grants? Although grants reimburse colleges for indirect costs like lab renovation and equipment, the state allows them to keep only 76 percent of the reimbursement, and the other 24 percent goes to the state general fund.
The colleges maintain they need full reimbursement to enhance their research efforts, which they say are vital in the state's economic development. The 1987 Legislature agreed and passed a statute calling for full reimbursement but it hasn't been implemented because of financial restraints.
The remaining 24 percent would mean another $3 million for the colleges.
- Will colleges be able to meet increased demand in educating more nurses and engineers, and for short-term, intensive vocational training? Should additional state funds be given to boost biotechnology and medical programs? The regents asked for $1.7 million in state funds. The legislative analyst and governor recommended funding of nursing, engineering and vocational training but not the biotechnology and medical sciences request.
Budget increase requests range from 4% to 8%
Regent Governor's Analyst
request Reccomendation Reccomendation
Increase request $21.8 million $10.8 million $10.4 million
Percent of increase 8.4 percent 4.16 percent 4.02 percent
for tax dollars
Total state funds $281.4 million $270.4 million $270 million
Total expenditures $377.2 million $365.9 million $365.9 million