Utah Governor Gary Herbert rolled out his budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 this week. At the top of his list: education. Herbert’s plan calls for $298 million in new funds be allocated to schools, but as Jessica Gail reports, the Governor's plan could be short lived due to the looming fiscal cliff.
Governor Gary Herbert is planning for the future. Wednesday he unveiled a $12.8 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2014, which will begin in July. His top priority is education.
"More than $3.4 billion is put there for education. That’s more than 63% that our state funds. We have $2.6 billion that’s going towards public education and $812 million that’s going toward higher education."
That includes $96 million to pay for enrollment growth in public education, $5 million for classroom supplies and another 5 million to increase Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM Learning in grades 4 - 8.
"We’re finding that we’re losing too many people in grades 4 - 8 that don’t have the math skills necessary to go on to achieve in high school and that precludes them from going on to college and becoming mathematicians, engineers etc."
The Governor says he also wants to emphasize the importance of STEM related degrees in Utah’s higher learning intuitions, which is why he has budgeted $29 million there. $20 million of that will be matched by colleges and universities statewide.
Herbert says all of this is part of his plan of having 66% of Utahn’s holding a degree or certificate by 2020.
But, Senate Budget Chairman Lyle Hillyard says this budget proposal only works if things stay status quo, which isn’t likely.
"As I’ve been visiting with the Governor’s office my comment has been that he shouldn’t really spend a lot of time on his budget now and as soon as we get what is going to happen in Washington, plus when we know what our State is doing then we’ll sit down and start drafting one seriously."
Herbert’s proposal also includes funding to keep state parks open, fund state liquor stores, and raise salaries for state and higher education workers.