Funding increases will go toward new Law Center, College of Medicine
The Texas Legislature on May 26 approved more than $100 million in new funding for the University of Houston System.
The funding will go towards many projects UH currently has underway and has began discussing, including a new Law Center building and more funding for the new College of Medicine. The University’s base budget increased by $16 million from fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2020.
“The state’s share of funding the UH System’s operating budget has decreased over the last three decades from 53 percent in 1988 to 25 percent in 2018,” said Mike Rosen, executive director of media relations. “Beyond formula funding, UH receives funding for a variety of programs and occasionally requests funding for emergency items such as to cover losses from Hurricane Harvey not covered by insurance or FEMA.”
States for a long time have been cutting education funding. The University of Houston, along with every other publicly funded Texas university, appeals to the legislature for funding every time they are in session – every two years.
The funding each college receives is supposed to last for the next two years. If they do not use it all before then, the leftover amount will disappear.
Not all money the University uses is from the state. Some 43 percent is from student support, tuition and fees, 15 percent is from contracts and grants, and other support, including philanthropy and licensing, makes up 17 percent of school funding.
UH needed to decide how much money and where they will use it by the August before the legislative session, which started January 8 and ended May 27. The University will receive half of the money they were granted from the state on September 1 of this year and the other half a year from then.
The Hobby School of Public Affairs and the UH Law Center are getting the most money out of the allocated funding. Some $45 million will go towards building a new Law Center, located right across from the old one.
“They’re in dire need of a new building given its constant leaking and flooding and such,” said Jason Smith, vice president for governmental relations. “We knew if we had an opportunity to ask for funds for a new building that would be a priority of ours.”
The Law Center will not be built in the next two years. Instead, the money allocated will be committed to the beginning stages of designing, planning and starting the process.
“They haven’t done a full design, but we do know the legislature appropriated money for two years, and we need to spend it before September 1, 2021,” Smith said. “We’re going to be moving as fast as we can to get this thing designed and built.”
College of Medicine
The College of Medicine is hoping to enroll its first students in Fall 2020 and is getting the finishing national accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.
The $20 million the University received towards the college this session will not be the last. The University plans to ask for an additional $20 million over the next four legislative sessions, according to a news release.
The funding the college received this time will help with start up-costs the college has.
The College of Medicine has already racked up several million dollars through donations by companies like Humana and H-E-B, along with anonymous contributions that will cover the first class’ tuition.
The University receives general funding based on semester credit hours. The more students that enroll in classes means additional money, not just from students to the University, but from the state to the University.
This go-around, the state granted UH $18 million in general revenue increases for the uptake in enrollment within the UH System.
Harvey hit the University hard. It flooded roads, displaced students in Bayou Oaks, took the Satellite out of commission for months, and flooded the basements of some buildings on campus. Overall 60 percent of the buildings throughout the UH System suffered damage, according to the news release.
The University was granted some money from the federal government to help with recovery efforts, but they did not cover everything. When they went to the legislature to request funds for the next two years UH decided to ask for money to finish recovery efforts from Harvey.
“We basically went to the legislature and said this is the money that is outstanding that we don’t know if we’re going to get from the federal government,” Smith said. “Whether it be FEMA or other agencies from insurance, and this is basically all the money that we are still owed.”
The main campus of the University needs no more repairs from Harvey, and the more than $26 million that the UH System will receive from the legislature will help restore lost revenues sustained from students not returning, in addition to fees, services and wages incurred that were not reimbursable by insurance, according to the news release.
Correction: In a previous version of this story we said the College of Medicine was enrolling students in Fall 2019. We’ve updated the story to say they will be enrolling in Fall 2020.