Utah Governor Gary Herbert presented his 2016 budget proposal today. He wants to significantly increase education funding and he says the state has the ability to pay for it thanks to a strong economy.
According to the governor’s office, the state of Utah can expect more than $638 million in new revenue for fiscal year 2016 which begins in July. Governor Herbert said he knows where he wants to invest most of that extra money.
“Because of our successes economically and because of our growing and expanding economy, we have growth money that we have a chance now with this budget to invest,” Herbert said. “To invest in areas that sometimes have been underfunded in the past, like education.”
Under Herbert’s proposal, 68-percent of new revenue would go into public education next year. That includes a 6.26 percent increase in the weighted pupil unit--the largest WPU increase in 25 years.
The governor emphasized he’d like to leave the decision of how the new money is used up to local school districts.
“There may be a need to increase teacher salaries,” Herbert said. “There may be a need to increase teachers and reduce classroom sizes. There may be a need for the local districts to in fact have more professional development for their teachers which has certainly been sorely needed for the last few years.”
The Governor’s entire $14.3 billion dollar budget also includes extra money for new clean-fuel school buses.