Zach Brown's Experience
Funding Higher Education
Zach has undertaken dynamic leadership roles and responsibilities throughout his Montana upbringing. In college, he served as the President of the Associated Students of the University of Montana. Zach committed a tremendous amount of effort to collaborative work with University System's leadership, including administrators and the Board of Regents. In this role, he worked hard to represent the concerns of over 15,000 constituents – his duties ranging from the overseeing the operations of the student-owned campus bus service, to advocating for student interests during the University's budget planning process.
Zach advocated passionately on behalf of students, staff, and faculty during the 2013 legislative session. He helped build support for Governor Bullock’s tuition freeze proposal, and contributed to the Montana University System efforts, which resulted in one of the most successful legislative sessions in recent memory. He worked hard focusing primarily on issues concerning the Montana University System, and ultimately helped to pass progressive bills during the 2013 Legislative Session:
- Full “Present Law Adjustment” funding for the University System – part of the Governor’s tuition freeze proposal, this $32 million increase in state funding was a huge win for students, faculty, and the state as a whole. It will keep in-state tuition from rising during the next two years, helping to ensure higher education remains accessible to all Montanans.
- State Employee Pay Plan – this bill resulted in a raise for all state employees, including University System faculty and staff, after a long pay freeze. This policy helps to guarantee our neighbors and educators fair and sustainable pay.
- Governor Bullock’s JOBS Bill: “Jobs and Opportunities by Building Schools” – funded construction on many crucial building and renovation projects across the University System. This bill was successful in large part because of a massive grassroots effort across the state by students, staff, and faculty.
Energy Efficiency Advocacy
Zach Will Work to Pass the Smart Buildings Initiative (SBI)
Over the last two years, Zach led an effort to reduce energy consumption in Montana University System – and eventually all – state owned facilities. The project was eventually named the “Smart Buildings Initiative.” Zach wrote and introduced a bill during the 2013 Legislative Session – it passed through committee with broad bi-partisan support, passed second reading on the House floor, but ultimately died unexpectedly before passing into law.
This bill introduced some innovative and challenging concepts regarding public budget appropriations. Zach and his colleagues ultimately passed much of what they worked on into official Board of Regent’s policy this last September. This will apply the new accounting incentive to all Montana University System buildings and utility budgets (on an opt-in basis), which ultimately applies to 60% of state-owned buildings in Montana. This was a great first step. If elected, Zach will resume his work to pass the “Smart Buildings Initiative” into state law. This effort will help make state buildings more comfortable and productive working environments – and it will save Montana tax payers millions of dollars.
Background on SBI
Each biennium, the State of Montana invests a significant amount of money in utility budgets for state agencies. Much of that money is spent on utilities in buildings that are old and energy-inefficient. Despite significant opportunity for cost-saving measures to be taken by state agencies, public budgeting encourages the full expenditure of allocated utility funds so that future allocations are not cut in the next biennium's budget. In an effort to save dollars inefficiently allocated to utilities in existing state buildings, my bill provides incentives for state agencies to reduce their utility consumption and then re-invest their savings back into more energy efficiency projects in existing buildings. Simply put, we can re-use current savings to create even more savings in the future, driving down heating, cooling, and maintenance costs in public buildings over the long term. Even better, we can start rewarding agencies for reducing their own energy consumption and operational expenditures instead of punishing them for it.
SBI in the News
- Montana Standard Editorial Board Endorses the Smart Buildings Initiative
- Billings Gazette Covers the Smart Buildings Initiative
- Students Praise Smart Buildings Initiative, $510k Investment in Energy Efficiency
- University of Montana Facilities Services, Commitment to the Smart Buildings Initiative
- Montana University System, Board of Regents Strategic Initiatives