OREM — Utah Valley State College leaders have started courting legislators, hoping to snag a few minutes so they can make a pitch for their projects.
In anticipation of the 2006 Legislature, UVSC President William Sederburg and two top aides this past week made several visits to legislators outside of Utah County to lobby for additional state funding.
The UVSC group traveled to several spots across the Wasatch Front to meet with House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy; Rep. Kory Holdaway, R-Taylorsville; Sen. Al Mansell, R-Midvale; Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan; and Ronda Rudd Menlove, R-Garland.
The discussions were the first of many Sederburg hopes he and college staffers will have with legislators about issues facing the Orem school and the college's top funding priority, which is considered by many to be linchpin in UVSC's quest to gain university status.
The No. 1 priority on UVSC's lobby agenda is money for a proposed Digital Learning Center, which, if built to plans, will be a state-of-the-art, 180-square-foot library.
Curtis said Wednesday that the Digital Learning Center stands a chance of being approved for funding this year. The project was at the top of last year's list of projects that should be funded — but got bumped by the
University of Utah's library renovation.
However, Curtis questions the cost, which has gone up considerably since UVSC sought money for the project this past year. A year ago, the school estimated construction costs at about $38 million. Now, it could cost between $48 million and $57 million.
Sederburg counters: "Construction costs have gone up sharply."
While Curtis agrees construction prices have increased, he scratches his head at the 30 percent increase. However, while he thinks the UVSC library will be built, there will be many questions about the project during the legislative session, which starts Jan. 16.
UVSC officials and legislators also discussed pay raises for state employees, which would include UVSC faculty, and so-called "equity funding," Sederburg said.
"Equity funding is the fact that we get $3,200 per student," Sederburg said. "The nearest other school gets, like, $3,900 per student. We need to increase this funding so it's not so discriminatory toward our students."
Curtis made no promises for equity funding. He said the point of this past week's discussion was to get acquainted with UVSC's arguments regarding their issues.
Last year, the Legislature gave UVSC about $3 million to help equalize funding in comparison to Utah's other colleges and universities.
Curtis also said he's carefully examining the data given to him by UVSC, such as numbers that state the U. receives $9,600 per student. The U. has costly medical, law, professional and graduate programs, Curtis said.
"I don't think you're comparing apples to apples in that," Curtis said. "Can someone work the numbers for me? What are the numbers for undergraduate education?"