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