U nursing initiative gets what it needs

Even though it hurt some legislators to do it, they gave $150,000 to the U for the nursing initiative.

Money for the statewide nursing initiative hung in the balance Wednesday as the distribution of allocated funds was debated in the House.

Some schools like Snow College and the College of Eastern Utah were promised $50,000 each, even though some legislators said those schools didn’t need the money.

“It’s a question of two philosophies,” said Executive Appropriations Committee chairperson Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-Salt Lake City. “Do you want to solve the nursing shortage or build programs at smaller schools?”

Rep. Rebecca Lockhart, R Provo, succeeded in taking the money away from the smaller schools and giving enough to the U for 22 new nursing educators.

“I really think, though it hurts to say, we gotta give this money to the U because we need the faculty,” she said.

Only the U’s College of Nursing offers Master and Doctorate degrees in nursing, which are required for those who want to teach. Each nursing school in the state has long waiting lines for people who would like to enter the program but can’t because there aren’t enough faculty in the state sponsored schools, she said.

With the $150,000 she proposed, the U would be able to hire two new faculty with doctorates who would be able to train 20 other people to become nursing educators, resulting in 22 new instructors.

Lockhart’s reluctance to support the U was expressed with a smile as she explained to the House that she was a Brigham Young University graduate.

A failed amendment proposed earlier by Rep. Gregg Buxton, R-Roy, would have taken out any wording specifying where the money would go. The bill approved earlier this week that gave $1 million for the statewide engineering initiative did not have wording specifying how the money would be allocated.

Rep. Margaret Dayton, R Orem, opposed Buxton’s amendment because it would put control of the money’s allocation into the hands of the State Board of Regents, who are not elected. It was the responsibility of the House to decide where the money went because they were elected, she said.

“I think it’s worth it, even if it’s at the U,” Lockhart said.

Rep. Bradley Johnson, R Aurora, opposed the amendment because the U College of Nursing was already given enough money in the bill. Whatever else they needed could be gained from other sources, he said.

“If we don’t give the small schools enough, it’s not worth giving them anything,” he said.

When the bill reached the Senate, Sen. Patricia Arent, D Salt Lake City, tried once again to take out the wording that allocated the budget to different schools.

“It seems wiser to leave that in the hands of the State Board of Regents instead of micro-managing this,” Arent said.

The needs of the schools were not represented by the allocation. It’s not done in a logical manner, she said.

When put to a vote, she was the only one in favor.

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