A National Study of State Tax Appropriations for Capital Needs in U.S. Public Higher Education

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This study investigated the relationship of key issues related to capital and operating budget practices of state tax appropriations and policies at the state level, including new facilities construction, renovation, replacement and renewal which may exist between and among states by governance structure. Recognized “good practices” in capital planning and allocation processes and funding mechanisms recommended by experts were also examined.Key findings include: (1) only half (18 out of 39) of responding states have a long range state master plan for facilities; (2) the majority of states do not conduct recommended periodic facilities audits; and (3) the total deferred maintenance has more than doubled from FY1997 to FY2008. Key conclusions include: (1) A major facilities information gap exists, with missing data at the federal and state levels; and (2) From FY1997 to FY2008, while the total US population grew by 36 million or 13.6%, and headcount enrollment in public higher education grew by 22.8%, state tax appropriations for public higher education operating budgets grew by only 21% and in the 18 states that provided data, state tax appropriations for capital budgets increased by 80%. However, this increase is tempered by the low initial amounts of capital appropriations, and the fact that no major federal investments in higher education facilities to spur matching state action to build up public higher education's physical infrastructure occurred, as did in the Baby Boom era (1965-73). While headcount enrollment increased by 2.5 million or 22.8%, no significant federal investments and only limited state investments in public higher education's physical infrastructure occurred. All-time record enrollment increases occurred simultaneously to an escalation of deferred maintenance. [Author's abstract]
Harris, A. Delphine
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