SALT LAKE CITY -- State officials have outlined a budget that would hold the line on appropriations for Weber State University for the 2013 fiscal year, following a 2 percent cut implemented for the current year.
The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee heard a recommendation Monday that would include $123,392,400 in funding for WSU for the coming fiscal year. It is the same amount the Legislature appropriated to the school for the current fiscal year and includes $750,000, from a separate fund for the second straight year, for construction of a new building at Weber State's campus in Davis County.
Brad Mortensen, Weber State's University Advancement vice president, said he is not surprised at the proposal.
"At this point in the session, that is very procedural," Mortensen said. "In the first 10 days they pass a budget bill that gives us the same amount of money we had in past years. The best we look to do this early is to keep everything we had before."
In lean years, cuts are announced early in the Legislature, he said.
"In the other 35 days of the session, they will be debating where to add money," Mortensen said. "They are still very early in the process of deciding funding for the next fiscal year. We are still hopeful we will receive additional funding."
With almost $400 million in new funding expected for the coming fiscal year, which includes $120 million in one-time funds, the line of educators asking for more is already forming.
Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, was not overly optimistic about any of the extra funding going to Weber State or other state universities.
"It'll go back and forth," Jenkins predicted of discussions of how to appropriate the extra revenue.
Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, kept the door open that some changes may be made to the governor's budget proposal.
Pressed on the chances higher education will get more money, he said those chances are good.
"The question is how much," Waddoups said.
Lawmakers heard pleas from a number of educators who insist more compensation for teachers is a top priority. That included Utah State University President Stan Albrecht and Utah Valley University President Matthew Holland.
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Holland says there is a consequence to cutbacks and holding the line in funding available for state institutions.
"It was demoralizing to my campus when the governor's budget came," Holland said.
He said holding the line on salaries for several years has left educators in a vulnerable position. It is vital, he said, that teachers be included in the group of state employees being considered for more compensation.
Dave Buhler, a representative for the Utah System of Higher Education, said his group is recommending lawmakers increase funding to state universities and colleges by 8 percent. He outlined a request for $55.2 million.