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Gov. Cox wants to freeze Utah college tuition next year

Governor's Monthly News Conference, Spencer Cox-7, Oct. 20, 2022
Spenser Heaps
/
Deseret News, pool
Gov. Spencer Cox holds his monthly news conference broadcast on PBS Utah from the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022.

If Gov. Spencer Cox has anything to say about it, a tuition freeze may be coming to Utah’s public colleges and universities next year.

Cox made the announcement during his October monthly news conference.

When looking at the rest of the country, Utah’s higher ed system has comparatively low tuition costs, which the governor said the state should be commended for. However, he said more could be done to lower costs as inflation continues to affect many Utahns.

“Being the best of a broken system isn’t helping anybody,” he said. “You know what would help people? A tuition freeze. We should not increase tuition next year.”

The board of the Utah System of Higher Education controls tuition at the state’s 16 public colleges and universities. The board has voted to increase tuition costs in each of the last three years.

In a statement that followed Cox’s announcement, Chair Michele Church said the board’s “topmost concern is keeping college affordable and accessible for our students.”

“As the Governor noted, inflation is impacting the finances of individuals and their families nationwide, and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure a higher education remains within reach for Utah students,” the statement continued. “We look forward to working with Governor Cox and the Utah Legislature in the next year on this proposal.”

Public education in Utah is primarily funded by state income tax dollars. Cox said the state’s strong economy allows for the possibility of a tuition freeze.

“We have the resources necessary … that we can figure out how to do more with less and how to be more efficient in our outcomes,” he said.

Tuition decisions are made by the Utah System of Higher Education in March.

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Cox also addressed the proposal to build a gondola to alleviate traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The Utah Department of Transportation pins the project pricetag at $550 million. Cox is a supporter of the gondola and said the project would cost a large amount of money regardless if the Legislature funds a gondola or another alternative.

The project is not currently funded and UDOT wants to enhance bus service in the canyon for the time being.

“It will give the Legislature, who will ultimately make the decision on funding, an opportunity to see what’s working and what’s not working,” Cox said of the current plans.

Gene Davis

In addressing the investigation of allegations of inappropriate conduct by State Sen. Gene Davis, the governor said the situation was handled “the right way” and commended Senate majority and minority leadership. Davis, a Democrat, has announced his resignation from the Senate effective in November.

The independent investigation started by Senate leadership found that it was “more likely than not” that Davis invaded former intern Sonia Weglinski's personal space, likely violating the Legislature’s Workplace Discrimination and Harassment policy.

Davis continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Sean is KUER’s politics reporter.
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