SB 83 Removed from HB 33
Despite indications of a potentially prolonged conference committee, yesterday, the House and Senate agreed on the final version of House Bill 33, the state operating budget for FY 2024-2025. The bill now goes to Gov. DeWine, who has line-item veto authority.
The good news is that Senate Bill 83 was removed from the final version of the bill! The only remnant was modified language regarding voluntary trustee training. This is a major victory in stalling the bill, which had been fast-tracked and placed in the budget to avoid more public scrutiny.
So what now? SB 83 and its companion bill–HB 151–are still pending pieces of legislation. The Ohio House of Representatives could act on them at any time. Given that Ohio has a two-year legislative cycle, we could be monitoring the bills until December 2024. Unfortunately, there are legislators who still will try to advance the bills.
We will keep you apprised of developments moving forward. For now, the legislature is likely to recess until September. In the meantime, consider sending thank you messages to the following State Representatives for their work in removing SB 83 from the budget bill and reiterate that SB 83/HB 151 are misguided bills that should not advance in the future either:
Speaker Jason Stephens: firstname.lastname@example.org
House Finance Committee Chair Jay Edwards: email@example.com
House Minority Leader Allison Russo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ranking Democrat on Finance Bride Rose Sweeney: email@example.com
Thank you to our members who called and emailed legislators, submitted testimonies, wrote op-eds, and engaged in many other actions. We couldn’t have done it without your activism, as well as the support of allied organizations. We may need you again in the future, but take a rest and enjoy the fact that we made a difference in defending higher education (for now)!
SB 117 Passed by Senate, New Version in Budget
In an unexpected development, Senate Bill 117–the bill to establish “intellectual diversity”/constitutional institutes at The Ohio State University and the University of Toledo–was placed on the June 28 Senate calendar for a vote and passed along party lines. It was then passed yesterday as part of the state operating budget bill.
An amendment was adopted on the Senate floor that added Miami University, Cleveland State University, and the University of Cincinnati as institutions that also would be required to establish such institutes. The administrations of these universities were not given any advance notice about the amendment, which was introduced and adopted within about three hours, with no committee hearings or opportunities for testimony. The amendment also included new policy language that grants even greater authority to the institute directors and explicitly excludes faculty from exerting meaningful input in hiring decisions.
We believe that these institutes will encounter a myriad of issues in establishment and operations, some of which may impact accreditation. We will work with our members at the affected institutions on how we can influence implementation.
Budget Funding for Higher Education
Unfortunately, State Share of Instruction remained at the levels passed by the Senate, which amounts to a cut when inflation is taken into account. In addition, the 3% tuition caps passed by the Senate were maintained. The lack of sufficient funding coupled with the tuition caps will continue squeezing our institutions. We must continue to fight for the instructional missions at our campuses.