Budget hearings continued again this week, with UT presenting budget testimony before the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee. During the hearing, the following “good news” was shared. Echoing these points to your local delegations is helpful as budget decisions will be made in the coming months.
The State of UT is strong.
- Tuition increases across the UT System over the last four years have been at record lows, and they are consistently below the legally-binding tuition increase caps as set by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Further, with the recent announcement of UT Promise, qualified students from families earning under $50,000 annually will now come to any UT campus tuition-free.
- Student Debt. The majority of UT graduates have little or no debt. In fact, 46% of UT students graduate without any debt at all.
- Student Success. UT students are breaking records in numerous areas every single year. With a strong focus on retaining and graduating students, UT’s performance measures are heading in the right direction and reaching record highs.
The Governor’s budget proposal contains strong funding for UT.
- The higher education mission-weighted performance formula is fully-funded, providing $5 million recurring in formula funding to UT Chattanooga, UT Knoxville, and UT Martin.
- $6.4 million recurring is included for 2% salary pools at “non-formula units,” including the UT Health Science Center, Institute of Agriculture, and Institute for Public Service.
- $10 million non-recurring is included for campus safety improvements. Campus safety is a top priority for UT—and this funding will go a long way in improving the safety of campus facilities and our safety systems.
With additional funding, UT can help tackle the state’s opioid crisis.
- Last year, the state provided $2 million non-recurring to UT Health Science Center’s Center for Addiction Science to help tackle the state’s opioid crisis by spearheading training for the treatment of addiction in Tennessee.
- This year, UT is requesting $3 million recurring to further this work that benefits the entire state. From training physicians and healthcare professionals in evidence-based protocols, to better recognizing, diagnosing, treating, and preventing addiction, to multidisciplinary research on neonatal abstinence syndrome—the Center is having an impact across the state.
- Funds were not included in the Governor’s initial budget proposal, however, we are working toward inclusion in his subsequent budget amendment or legislative consideration.