(a) The Legislature makes the following findings:
(1) State institutions of higher education vary widely in the conditions of their facilities infrastructure.
(2) State institutions of higher education vary widely in their ability to incur debt for capital improvements. It is nearly impossible for community and technical colleges and some smaller baccalaureate institutions to fund significant capital improvements in the absence of state funding.
(3) A student enrolled at a community and technical college that previously was administratively linked to another state institution of higher education pays substantially higher tuition and mandatory fees than a student enrolled at a freestanding community and technical college. This cost discrepancy is due in large part to the significantly higher capital fees charged to these students to pay debt service for capital improvements.
(4) The substantial amount of capital fees that students must pay at the institution level contributes significantly to the poor grade the state receives in the category of “Affordability” in Measuring Up: The National Report Card on Higher Education.
(5) It is beneficial for the state to provide additional ongoing capital funding to reduce the obligation of students and parents to bear the cost of higher education capital improvements and facilities maintenance.
(6) West Virginia is one of only a few states that does not address higher education capital improvements and facilities maintenance needs through a statewide plan.
(7) State funding for capital improvements should align with state and system higher education goals, objectives and priorities as set forth in article one-d of this chapter.
(8) State capital funding should focus primarily on educational and general capital improvements, not auxiliary capital improvements.
(9) Renovations of existing buildings sometimes deserve greater consideration for state funding than new construction. However, new construction may deserve greater consideration than renovation when a state or system goal, objective or priority is implicated, as well as when renovation would be financially inefficient.
(10) As the Legislature increases funding for new educational and general capital improvements and major renovations, and supplants existing educational and general debt, institutions should target funds for maintenance and deferred maintenance needs.
(11) If community and technical colleges are to keep the cost of education affordable, they cannot be expected to fund maintenance obligations entirely from student capital fees.
(12) The commission and council should scrutinize carefully all requests from institutions to incur additional debt in order to determine their effect on institution debt capacity and the impact that incurring additional debt will have on students.
(13) State institutions of higher education ultimately should target adequate state capital contributions and capital fees to address maintenance and deferred maintenance needs.
(14) Until institutions are able to generate sufficient revenue to address maintenance and deferred maintenance needs, the Legislature should provide periodic funding to assist institutions in addressing these needs. Funding priority should be given to projects that address building code requirements and critical maintenance needs.
(15) In supporting future high priority capital needs, the Legislature, commission and council should not reward institutions with state funding if they neglect to address facilities maintenance needs or do not prudently manage their capital resources.
(16) Once an institution’s capital development plan has been approved by the governing board and confirmed by the commission or approved by the council, as appropriate, project priorities should not change significantly from year to year.
(17) Commission and council staff should participate in managing capital projects at smaller institutions if the smaller institution lacks the expertise necessary to plan, design and complete projects at or under budget.
(b) The intent of the Legislature relating to this article includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) Dedicated state funding sources shall be designated to finance construction and renovation of educational and general facilities at state institutions of higher education from time to time;
(2) Capital project lists submitted by institutions to the commission or council, as appropriate, and capital project lists submitted by the commission and council to the state budget office, Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability, and Joint Committee on Government and Finance for consideration for state funding shall be reasonable requests that align with state and system goals, objectives and priorities and ones which reasonably could be funded if approved;
(3) As the Legislature increases its responsibility for financing new educational and general facilities and major renovations, the commission, council and institutions shall ensure that sufficient capital revenues are available for maintenance and that the facilities are maintained adequately;
(4) Ongoing state funding shall be dedicated to supplement capital fees available for maintenance at community and technical colleges; and
(5) Once a system capital plan is in place, institutions shall set aside adequate funding annually to ensure that ongoing facilities maintenance needs are met.