Governor's budget earmarks $9 billion for education

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(KUTV) - Governor Gary Herbert detailed his new $16.7 billion budget proposal at the Davis Technical College, calling 2018 the "Year of Technical Education."

With $382 million ongoing tax revenue estimated by the state, Herbert earmarked 72 percent of the proposed budget for education - $9 billion total.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the extra money includes an increase of $170 million in flexible local school money distributed to school districts through what is called the weighted pupil unit (WPU), based on how many and what types of students each district has.

Herbert called for an add-on to the WPU to include an extra $34 million to help districts with more children at risk of academic failure, the Tribune reported.

Additionally, the budget included $36 million to cover the added costs of what are projected to be another 7,700 public school students next year.

Other budget highlights detailed by the Tribune include:

• A previously approved $10 million for Operation Rio Grande, the effort to fight crime around downtown Salt Lake City areas frequented by the homeless, and to provide better services for them.

• $10.3 million to improve the state park system.

• A 2 percent cost-of-living pay increase for state employees.

• $5.9 million to improve Olympic venues, which may help bids for future games. “It would help support and strengthen a potential bid,” and help maintain facilities, Cox said.

• $500,000 to conduct Utah-specific air quality research, and $350,700 for more air quality personnel in areas with heavy backlogs or unmet needs.

• $8.4 million for dam safety upgrades.

• $305,000 to fight algal blooms in lakes and waterways.

• $1 million to study and better measure agricultural water use in the state.

• New buildings, including at the University of Utah hospital, a Weber State University social science building, a Dixie State performance building, a new Department of Agriculture building, and a Nephi National Guard Armory.

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