Senate Education Committee Hears Proposed UT Budget

The Senate Education Committee convened yesterday for a round of budget hearings that included the proposed FY15 budget for the University of Tennessee System.  Ultimately, members voted unanimously to “move the budget,” sending it on to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.

UT President Joe DiPietro began his budget testimony with an appreciation to the Administration and legislature for last year’s budget and this year’s proposal that contains no budget cuts for higher education.

DiPietro also acknowledged the inclusion of the state portion (about 55 percent) of a 1 percent salary increase for higher education employees.  This $9.3 million in funding is to be allocated across 9 state universities, 13 community colleges, and 27 Colleges of Applied Technology, and represents the total of new operating dollars for higher education this year.  In short: The state portion of the employee salary increase is the funding formula money for FY15.

Historically, higher education is expected is to leverage the remaining 45 percent of required funding to provide employee salary increases via future tuition increases.

President DiPietro stated in the Senate hearing that given the current budget proposal before the General Assembly, tuition increases will likely be in the “mid-range” single digits this year.

Members covered a variety of topics through questioning—including the legislative components of the Governor’s Drive to 55 Initiative, tuition increases, and transfer pathways from community colleges to four-year higher education institutions.

The hearing closed with several legislative comments regarding the use of student activity fees and current programming on the UTK Campus.  While legislators referenced upcoming opportunities for this issue to be more fully discussed, they publicly expressed their concern and disappointment as the UT budget hearing came to a close.

The UT budget will move on to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.  The House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee budget hearing for UT will occur on Wednesday, February 26.

You can watch the full hearing in the embedded video below.
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