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$20M for STEM Action Center in UT Budget; More Oversight for USTAR

March 20, 2014

Increased scrutiny for public investments has grown in recent years amid tight budget conditions. Returns on innovation-focused efforts often take time, and as a result TBED groups are always looking to improve metrics and reporting to meet greater demand for transparency. In Utah, lawmakers recently passed a bill providing more oversight for the state’s signature innovation-capacity building program following a critical audit last year. At the same time, lawmakers continued to embrace the concept of the agency they established eight years prior, and appropriated level funds to continue USTAR’s efforts in research and commercialization. The legislature also passed a bill dedicating $20 million to the STEM Action Center created last session.  

USTAR is slated to receive $22 million in FY15 funding, the same as last year. USTAR accomplishes its economic objective to increase innovation, entrepreneurship and investment through three components. This includes star faculty recruitment, building world-class research facilities, and the business development technology outreach teams that specialize in commercialization.

The oversight bill passed by lawmakers, SB 62, requires the USTAR governing authority to establish additional performance standards and expectations for its programs and provide a detailed annual report and annual audit. The bill also modifies the allocation of commercialization revenues and repeals the non-lapsing status of appropriations to the USTAR governing authority.

Lawmakers dedicated $20 million to the STEM Action Center through HB 150, which provides $15 million in one-time funds and $5 million ongoing from the general fund. The legislation expands on the center’s mission to promote best practices in STEM education and serve as repository of curriculum, programs and activities (see previous Digest article). Some of the changes include allowing the STEM Action Center board to create a foundation; expanding the scope of the STEM education related technology program to more students; creating the STEM education middle school applied science initiative and the high school STEM education initiative; and, creating the STEM education endorsements and incentive program.

The corresponding budget bills are HB 2: http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0002.html and SB 4 http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/SB0004.html.


Utahstem, state budget, state tbed