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Governor Proposes $16B Budget With Schools, Public Safety In Mind

Julia Ritchey, KUER
Gov. Gary Herbert describes highlights from his 2018 budget recommendations on Dec. 7, spekaing at the Utah Highway Patrol office in Murray.

Gov. Gary Herbert rolled out his proposed $16.1 billion budget on Wednesday for the 2018 fiscal year.

Speaking at the Utah Highway Patrol’s Salt Lake office, Herbert said he has no plans for tax increases, but does plan to funnel close to 80 percent of new ongoing revenue into public schools.

“We recognize that if we’re going to have continued success economically, we need to have a labor force to compete in what is now a global marketplace,” he said. “We have to have skills that align with the demands of the marketplace.”


Herbert proposes pouring $260 million toward public and higher education funding, part of his larger goal to pump $1 billion into the public education system over the next five years.


Other priorities include water conservation, air quality and public safety, with about $1.5 million marked for state trooper salary increases and another $1 million for equipment upgrades, like additional body cameras.


Asked why taxes were off the table given a drop in state revenue, the governor said he didn’t want to throw a monkey wrench in Utah’s humming economy. He said he’d prefer for Congress to look at reforming the federal tax system first.


“So I would rather address those first and see can we close the loopholes on tax exemptions and tax credits. They ought to be reviewed,” he said. “We ought to see if in fact what they were purposefully put in place to do, whether the results have been appropriate or not. …And let’s look at closing the loophole on sales tax.”


The governor’s spending plan provides a blueprint for the legislature, which will have the ultimate say in crafting a final budget during the upcoming session starting in January.


[FY 2018 Gov. Gary Herbert's Budget Recommendations on Scribd]

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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