SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Governor Gary Herbert unveiled his proposal today, recommending 14.8 billion dollars for the 2017 fiscal year.
Using the Innovations Early College High School as his backdrop for his press conference today, Governor Herbert stressed his strong commitment to continue focusing his efforts on education.
By just how much though? By allocating 70%, or 442 million dollars of new money to public education. Bringing Utah’s total investment in education up to 1.75 billion dollars in new money over the last five years.
“My plans are that we invest another billion dollars over the next five years into public education,” says Governor Herbert, “and 275 million into higher education.”
With an 84% graduation rate, and an 11% decrease in drop out rates he is making education his number one priority to sustain a strong economic force, and have a labor force with the skills they need to compete, he proposed an increase 130 million dollars in WPU, to provide an additional $206 for every Utah student. And also proposed a 10 million dollar tax shift from earmarks in the general fund towards education and at risk kids.
Apart from education, Governor Herbert also recommended 10 million dollars in ongoing funds for Medicaid consensus items with 19.6 million in one-time supplemental funds. He also added there are ways the legislature could close the Medicaid gap.
“We have 528 million dollars in the rainy day funds, maybe some money could be adjusted there. We have significant amounts of money in addition to the 10 million gap coverage for Medicaid, so, I expect there’s ways to move that around and come up with the necessary monies to hopefully take care of the gap,” added Governor Herbert.
Another part of his recommendation was a proposal of $350,000 dollars to go to public safety that would create two new positions. These new employees would work with the state’s bureau of investigations to help screen refugees coming into the state. The governor adding that they would add an extra level of review in the screening process to make sure those refugees coming into the state wouldn’t pose a threat to Utahns.
“I believe that’s needed. But, we can do it an a way that’s not playing into people’s fears. So, I think we’re finding a right balance here that’s not reactionary but actually wise and methodical,” said the governor.