University System Funding Tied to State Employee Pay Plan in Legislature [YouTube]
Whether or not tuition will remain frozen for university students in Montana depends on passage of a pay plan agreement with state employees.
Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education Kevin McRae said there are three separate factors upon which administrators are depending to keep from increasing tuition on Montana's university campuses.
"We in the appropriations process had an agreement," McRae said. "It was a three-sided agreement between the university system, the governor and our appropriations budget subcommittee. If we get adequate inflationary funding in House Bill 2 (the state budget), and the second piece, if there is a fully-funded state employee pay plan, then we would be in a position to not raise tuition."
McRae said House Bill 2 is in good shape, but there is some question as to a state employee pay plan.
"There was a state employee pay bill that was tabled in the appropriations process, but a lot of people believe that legislators working behind the scenes by the end of this week may put forth some kind of appropriation for a state employee pay plan into the budget bill," he said. "That's the focus this week. If the budget bill can be enhanced to provide the university system to put forth some salary and wage adjustments to preserve and protect the quality of education, then we should be in good shape, and would not have to raise the price of tuition."
There are still two weeks left in the legislature's calendar, but McRae believes if the state budget bill can be passed, then the session might end early.