HB 166: State Budget Bill

Last Thursday, April 11, OCAAUP President John McNay testified to the Ohio House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education on House Bill 166, the biennial state budget bill.

In his testimony, McNay advocated for greater State Share of Instruction funding, encouraging the committee members to seek new revenue, if need be, in order to accomplish that. He applauded the infusion of money to the need-based Ohio College Opportunity Grant, but advised that the state still can -- and should -- do better.

In addition, McNay called attention to issues with College Credit Plus and the focus on "time to degree" as a cost-savings model. He also said institutions need to be more transparent with their budgets, since too much money is being spent on things peripheral to the academic mission. Moreover, he suggested that the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) needs to have greater oversight of university leadership, since several of Ohio's institutions have been mismanaged badly.

McNay pointed to this language in the budget regarding faculty workload, which we brought to your attention last week:

The boards of trustees of state institutions of higher education shall ensure that faculty members devote a proper and judicious part of their work week to the actual instruction of students. Total class credit hours of production per academic term per full-time faculty member is expected to meet the standards set forth in the budget data submitted by the Chancellor of Higher Education.

ODHE reached out to us last week to let us know that this language merely carried over from previous budget bills and has no discernible impact, so McNay asked the committee to remove the language to avoid further confusion.

HB 88: FORUM Act / "Campus Free Speech"

Last Tuesday, April 9, Ohio State professor and OCAAUP member Lisa Voigt testified on House Bill 88, the "Forming Open and Robust University Minds" or FORUM Act, also called the "Campus Free Speech" bill.

Calling the bill unnecessary, Voigt stated in her testimony that the First Amendment already protects free speech at our colleges and universities, and that, while the AAUP shares the belief that no idea should be banned on campus, there is a difference between forbidding an idea and hosting a controversial speaker that could require heavy security.

Voigt also warned that, should this bill become law, it would lead to more bureaucracy and administration at our institutions.

We plan to testify against SB 40, which is the companion bill to HB 88 in the Ohio Senate, when that opportunity arises.

Many thanks to Professors McNay and Voigt for representing faculty in our state capital to relay the AAUP's concerns and positions.