For Your Health
For Your Health

News from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences

From the Dean: Crossing over in Bismarck

The second half of the legislative session in Bismarck just began. Bills passed by each chamber now “cross-over” to the other chamber. The funding bill for us, and the rest of the North Dakota University System (NDUS), including UND, is House Bill 1003, which is now being considered by the Senate. We will testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee Education and Environmental Division next Tuesday from 11:15 a.m. until noon. If you’d like to watch, please use this link.

Although the House made some adjustments to our budget request (and those of UND and NDUS as well), none of them are especially problematic. Perhaps most important to faculty and staff is that the House modestly reduced the salary increase pool from that recommended by the Governor in his Executive Budget submission. Governor Burgum proposed a six percent increase for the first year of the upcoming biennium and four percent for the second. The House reduced this to a four/four package. Time will tell as to what the Senate decides, and if different from the House determination, the ultimate decision will occur during a conference committee meeting that likely will take place in late April. So, stay tuned!

The other SMHS issue that we plan to revisit with the Senate committee is our request that funding for appropriated-funded salary and health insurance premium increases be appropriated to cover those faculty, staff, and especially residents (doctors in training) who are funded through our Healthcare Workforce Initiative (HWI). For some reason that remains unclear, the legislature has not in the past included HWI funding in the salary increase pool. Thus, in the past, we had to reallocate internal funds so that we could ensure that HWI-funded individuals were eligible for the same salary increases (and coverage for health insurance premium increases) as all other employees at the SMHS. I don’t think that there is anything especially controversial about making this adjustment, and I hope that the Senate will correct this. Taken together, the proposed salary increase pool and estimated health insurance premium increases total around $800,000, so we are not talking about pocket change!

I’ll provide an update next week following our presentation, along with a copy of the slide presentation that I’ll use.

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
Vice President for Health Affairs, UND
Dean, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences