Bill advances that would give governor power to hire, fire higher ed chief

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would give the governor the ability to terminate certain higher education leaders is making its way through the House after advancing from the Senate.

Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, is sponsoring SB39, which would require the governor’s approval and state Senate’s consent in the hiring of a new Commissioner of Higher Education or president of the Utah College of Applied Technology. The governor would also have authority to fire those leaders.

Currently, the State Board of Regents and UCAT Board of Trustees decide who to hire and fire.

“It’s an effort to provide some accountability to the two silos of education that manage a considerable amount of funds,” Reid told a House Education Committee.

The governor needs more say in education, Reid said. The bill requires that when terminating a commissioner or president, the governor would have to consult with the board of regents or UCAT board of trustees, though he would not need their consent or approval in making the decision.

“It’s not something to be done willy nilly,” he said. “The truth of the matter is the governor has no real authority over education.”

Reid has backed away from other legislation he pursued that would have given the constitutional governance of both higher and public education to the governor.

Reid’s bill passed 7-6. It now goes to the House floor.

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