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AM News Brief: Federal Drought Response, Romney’s 'Courage' Award & Your Questions About The City Budget

Photo of the Salt Lake City and County building
Brian Albers
/
KUER
The Salt Lake City Council wants to know what questions residents have about the city’s budget and will host an “ask me anything” event Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. on Facebook. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, May 27, 2021

State

Utah Lowers Flag To Remember San Jose Shooting Victims

Flags have been lowered at Utah state buildings to honor victims of Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Jose, California. A gunman took the lives of nine people at a rail yard where he was employed. Gov. Spencer Cox authorized the lowering of the Utah flag at state facilities through sunset on Sunday. It follows President Joe Biden’s order to lower the U.S. flag to half-staff at federal and military facilities. — Elaine Clark

Grading Utah’s Education Funding

Utah is no longer last in the country in per-student spending, according to the latest census data on public education funding. But the state has gotten worse in it’s funding effort compared to previous years — that is, how much money the state spends on education relative to personal income. But rather than compare Utah to other states, Shawn Teigen with Utah Foundation said a better strategy is to look at the gaps between students within the state, like the differences in graduation rates for White and Asian students compared to Latino, Pacific Islander and Black students. Teigen said the state should be focused on closing those gaps. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Romney Acceptance Speech Calls Out The Left And The Right

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Wednesday for being the only Republican to vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his first impeachment trial. In his acceptance speech, Romney faulted those on both extremes of the nation’s political divide, saying there’s plenty of blame to go around for the nation's partisan chasm. Romney said some on the right “infect the nation with claims of election fraud” and vaccine fantasies. He also pointed to the left’s reliance on what he called “hyperwoke accusations and antipathy toward free enterprise.” — Associated Press

Northern Utah

Ask Your City Budget Questions

The Salt Lake City Council wants to know what questions residents have about the city’s budget and will host an “ask me anything” event Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. on Facebook. The mayor’s total proposed budget is about $1.8 billion and includes around $350 million for the general fund. One of the big-ticket items is $83.4 million allocated for the police department, a 5% increase from the previous year. The council’s next public budget hearing is June 1; they’re required to adopt the budget by the end of June. — Emily Means

Region/Nation

Federal Drought Response

Parts of our region are experiencing the worst drought conditions in more than a century, prompting President Joe Biden to pledge a government-wide response. The Interior Department will identify which tribal, state and local governments need immediate financial assistance to help combat the impacts of drought. A department official said the president's upcoming budget proposal would also boost funding to address water shortages in addition to funding clean energy proposals and climate research. She did not say though how much funding that would be. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau