Last week, the Tennessee General Assembly approved a $56.2 billion budget for FY 2023-2024. This budget contains many investments benefitting University of Tennessee campuses and institutes. My sincere thanks to Carey Whitworth, vice president of government relations and advocacy, along with her entire team (and so many others across the UT System!) for their tireless work during this legislative session.
Highlights of the budget include:
- A 5% salary pool increase for state employees, as well as investments in employee health insurance and 401k contributions.
Full funding for the higher education funding formula.
- $10.7 million recurring for the UT Health Science Center, representing the largest recurring increase to any higher education institution via legislative budget amendment this funding cycle.
Authorization of $5 million in UT Chattanooga institutional funds to begin planning an addition to Fletcher Hall for the Rollins College of Business.
- Authorization of $6.5 million in UT Knoxville institutional funds to begin planning a new Chemistry Building to accommodate student growth.
- $562,600 in recurring operating funds for the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.
- $200,000 in recurring funds for property assessor education and technical assistance through the UT Institute for Public Service's County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS).
- $20 million initial state investment in City of Knoxville Pedestrian Bridge.
$28 million in funding to construct the Tennessee Water Education and Training (WET) Center, which will be a first-of-its-kind Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) facility housed at the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Lone Oaks Farm.
- $5.1 million recurring to sustain the UT Grow Your Own partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education.
$16 million in additional funding for FY23-24 to expand service opportunities for the Healthy Smiles Initiative led by the UT Health Science Center.
$5 million nonrecurring for the Transportation Network Growth and Opportunity Initiative, known as TNGO. TNGO’s focus is to strategically grow and sustain Tennessee’s future mobility innovation economy through research and development partnerships, which will bolster our university research efforts.
In addition, the legislature passed the Higher Education Capital Projects Modernization Act, which was UT’s top policy priority this year. The measure is focused on creating a more streamlined, efficient path for higher education capital projects, reducing the types of projects that must go to the State Building Commission for approval, and allowing for real-time disclosure for certain projects. The measure also raises certain statutory thresholds that will allow routine maintenance items and small projects to move forward more expeditiously.
We have so much to be proud of, and I am thankful to be a part of such an amazing team at UT. We will continue to advocate for higher education in our great state, and we truly appreciate the support of Gov. Bill Lee and our Tennessee General Assembly.