The Senate, on June 13, rejected a House bill that would have allowed N.C. citizens to vote on a $1.2 billion bond package for UNC system schools through a statewide referendum. The Senate had passed it’s own version of the bill, which would allow the state to issue $3 billion in state bonds and the UNC Board of Governers to issue an unlimited amount of “special obligation bonds” without a voter referendum. A conference committee has been appointed to work out a compromise bill.
Proponents of the University of North Carolina’s huge spending program — to be financed with bonds that don’t require voter approval — have been pulling out all the stops. In a General Assembly committee hearing on the legislation, UNC President Molly Broad said that it should be approved because the late UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker wanted it. That was within hours of his death.
The much-discussed $4.9 billion in state and university bonds for higher education will cost a bit more than taxpayers might realize.
The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy this week released a Spotlight showing why the UNC system should not rely on bonds to finance the UNC system’s construction costs and highlighting better ways to address construction needs. The report poses questions that it says all citizens and legislators should ask before giving approval to the legislation: Can’t the necessary capital dollars come from existing growth in funding?
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pays professors the fifth-highest average salary among public universities of its kind, a study by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy has found. The other Research I institution in North Carolina, North Carolina State University, also pays its professors well comparatively, with an average salary greater than the nationwide average for public Research I institutions. The study examined 56 Research I institutions’ salaries adjusted for the cost of living at each institution’s location.
Bonds may not be the best answer to UNC’s rising construction cost, according to a recent analysis by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. The report comes in the wake of a proposal by the UNC Board of Governors to meet the university’s construction needs by allowing the UNC-system to sell “special obligation” bonds and the state to issue “limited obligation” bonds. The proposal is scheduled to reach the General Assembly within weeks.
This year’s House budget proposal of $13 billion includes tremendous gains for higher education, including millions more for community colleges. The full House is expected to vote on the budget this week.
The UNC Board of Governer’s meeting on May 14 led to the approval of two financial “tools” that could change the way that UNC pays back construction bonds, according to Associated Press reports. The tools are included in two legislative bills that should reach the General Assembly within weeks.
A new study by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy finds that the UNC system uses criteria that inhibit its ability to contract out various services. These criteria, known as “outsourcing criteria/guidelines,” apply to all UNC-system schools and were recently part of the Outsourcing Steering Committee’s decision not to privatize residential housekeeping services at UNC-Chapel Hill. These criteria also guided the university’s decision not to privatize various other services at UNC-CH, including heating, ventilating and air conditioning, ground maintenance and vehicle maintenance.
According to a report by Roesel, Kent and Associates of Marietta, Ga., privatization of residence hall housekeeping at UNC-CH would not save money and would, infact, cost the university an additional $59,620. To arrive at that figure, RKA & Associates compared in-house and contracting out cost over a five year period.