Jason Perry at the Utah Legislature Event, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

When the U needs $50 million, Jason Perry is the man to talk to.

Perry is the vice president for governmental relations at the U. His office promotes campus needs to the Utah Legislature and provides approval and funding.

Perry held a 2016 Legislative Session Preview for the Campus Communications Council, outlining this year’s priorities and relevant issues predicted to be discussed by the legislature.

One of these projects includes obtaining $50 million for a new proposed Medical Education and Discovery Center and $6 million for graduate research initiatives. Perry’s office is also aiming for approval of the Red Butte Garden Horticulture Complex and the proposed Eccles Critical Care Pavilion.

Perry said the U’s top priority for the upcoming legislative session is seeing an increase in performance-based compensation for staff and faculty. The goal is to attract and retain qualified individuals to the U by offering competitive salaries.

Perry is also waiting for legislators’ discussion on a new Medicaid expansion proposal. The U has a stake in the issue because it provides a “tremendous amount of uncompensated care for the state,” Perry said.

Perry said the morning of the preview that U president Pershing received the go-ahead with plans for the proposed new David Eccles School of Business Executive Education Building. Because all university buildings are considered state assets, legislative approval must be obtained for construction projects.

To gauge what changes need to take place, Pershing and Vivian Lee, senior vice president of Health Sciences, meet with faculty, staff and other groups year-round. Meetings are also held with other higher educational institutions to determine broader accommodations. Governmental relations then creates talking points for determined priorities, and circulates this information to various committees and departments.

Paul Peterson, chair of the legislative committee, attended the session and presented the talking points. The committee is in charge of assisting the office of governmental relations at the university.

“The preference is that people use the talking points,” Peterson said. “It’s the clarity and consistency of the message that counts.”

The advocacy group, U for Higher Ed, sends out alerts to keep people informed of relevant discussions in the legislature. More info can be found here: http://ulink.utah.edu/s/1077/index.aspx?sid=1077&gid=1&pgid=544

n.venugopal@dailyutahchronicle.com

@NikiVenugopal

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