Senator Rejects Bonds for Renovation at WSU

Senator Rejects Bonds for Renovation at WSU

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Weber State University students who voted for a fee increase to renovate their student union building have been trumped -- at least for the moment -- by a lone southern Utah state senator.

Sen. Bill Hickman, R-St. George, was a quorum of one in the Capital Facilities Appropriation Subcommittee on Monday when he voted down Weber State's request to sell $20 million in revenue bonds.

"It's still early in the session, we're going to work on it and we'll continue to work on it," WSU President Ann Millner said.

There are four senators in the committee. The others are part of the legislative leadership and not required to be at the committee's meetings.

Committee members could put the House-passed bill back on the agenda.

The revenue bonds, intended to be paid back through money generated by the Shepherd Union Building and by an increase in student fees, would help pay for a mechanical overhaul, seismic work, an addition and renovations to the 50-year-old structure.

Students initiated a referendum last year and voted to raise their student fees $30 in the next three years to help pay for the building.

However, Hickman said the fee increase was a tax increase to the students,

Hickman also argued that the revenue bonds are a liability to the state if the university were unable to make good on the debt.

"It wasn't against Weber State, it was against revenue bonds," he said, noting that nothing is final, including this vote.

In addition to the student referendum, Weber State has also received approval for bonding from the state Board of Regents and the state Building Board.

"If they've gone through the process, they ought to have a full hearing ... that's why it's not a final vote," said one member of the committee, Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem. "We'll be looking at this before the end of the session."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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