Campus News

General Assembly’s legislative actions positive for UGA

With the end of the economic recession, the Georgia General Assembly, which adjourned March 20, passed a fiscal year 2015 state budget that includes a spending increase for higher education and salary increases for University System of Georgia faculty and staff.

Not only did higher education see an almost 3 percent funding increase in the new budget-up $56 million to $1.939 billion-but $11.4 million was set aside for merit-based salary increases for University System employees, employee recruitment and retention salary adjustments.

“We are grateful that the General Assembly has addressed the University of Georgia’s most pressing needs during this session,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Not only in our operating budget and salaries, but also in capital construction, major renovations and other areas, the new budget provides support vitally important to the university’s ability to carry out its mission of teaching, research and service to advance Georgia and Georgians.”

The budget’s bond package includes:

• $44.7 million to build UGA’s Science Learning Center;

• $7.75 million for the renovation and expansion of UGA’s Baldwin Hall;

• $11.5 million for turfgrass research and education facilities in Athens, Tifton and Griffin;

• $4 million for major repair and renovation for UGA Extension and the Agricultural Experiment Station facilities;

• $1.35 million to replace equipment at the Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Laboratory;

• $300,000 to replace an HVAC system in the Tift Building on the Tifton campus; and

• $40 million for major repair and renovation systemwide.

The budget includes an additional $2 million in funding to support graduate medical education, bringing the total funding to $5.275 million.

Legislators also passed a bill extending the existing tax exemption on University System property to private partners who operate student housing for public colleges and universities.

A bill that would have allowed optional retirement plan participants a one-time opportunity to opt-in to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia was tabled in the House and did not receive final approval.

By resolution, the House established a Study Committee on Medical Education, which will have seven members appointed by the House speaker, to examine both undergraduate and graduate medical education, clinical fellowships and other medical education issues.