Kasich signs bill free of anti-faculty provisions
Earlier today, June 30, Gov. Kasich signed HB 49, the state biennial budget bill, into law.
The bill that was finalized by the conference committee, approved by both the House and Senate, and sent to the governor remained free of the anti-faculty provisions (e.g. reduced sick leave, one-size-fits-all post-tenure review, and an annual disclosure filing requirement for faculty who assign textbooks) that the House had included in its earlier version of the bill.
The bill, however, does include provisions that ask boards of trustees to review and update tenure policies, as well as create textbook selection policies for faculty.
The Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) increases allocated by the Senate were approved, meaning there will be more funding for low-income students in the next two years.
On the other hand, the appropriations to State Share of Instruction (SSI), the main state funding source for our public colleges and universities, remained flat. SSI funding for FY 2018 and 2019 will be the same as FY 2017. Considering inflation, this amounts to a funding cut over the next two years.
Starting with the 2018-19 academic year, institutions that adopt a tuition guarantee program will be permitted to raise tuition by 8%. In other words, incoming students will see an 8% hike to tuition, but that tuition amount will be frozen for them for four years. It roughly equates to a 2% tuition increase each year.
Institutions are not permitted to increase general and instructional fees over the next two years.
As we expressed in our testimonies to the House and Senate, Ohio cannot meet its degree and certificate goal unless it provides significantly more resources to public higher education. For too long, the Ohio General Assembly has balanced budgets on the back of education — a strategy that has proven penny-wise and pound foolish.
The Ohio Conference will continue to advocate for the need for greater funding to our higher education system, as well as necessary reforms at the state and institutional levels. We put much of this forward in our latest Ohio Higher Education Report: Education First.
Thank you to all of our members who were active during this budget process! Your calls, e-mails, and lobby visits to your legislators made a big difference. And stay tuned. We are only a quarter of the way through this two-year General Assembly.
We expect more legislative challenges in the not-too-distant future. In fact, Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Twp.) introduced HB 298 this week, which would reduce sick leave for all state employees who currently have 15 days down to 10 days, similar to the language that had been in the budget bill. The legislature will be recessing until the fall, but we do expect that bill to get attention come September.