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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Priorities

By Lyle Hillyard
Senate Chair of Executive Appropriations

In action this morning, the House and Senate set aside $300.0 M of ongoing moneys for tax cuts, transportation, and water development, leaving $56.0 M of ongoing revenue for further allocation.

We are working to allocate the remaining $56.0 M of ongoing funds for committee priorities. With that amount, we can probably fund the following (although the House and Senate still need to come to agreement on the exact items):

Executive Offices and Criminal Justice
*$4.1 M for 288 beds added to the Central Utah/Gunnison Prison.

*$800,000 overtime pay (about 70 percent of their request) for Highway Patrolman who work long hours on days with bad weather and poor driving conditions (remember last week’s snow storm?).
Commerce and Revenue
*$3.8 M for Health Insurance for Utahans who cannot obtain private insurance because of an uninsurable health condition.
Health and Human Services
*$9.8 million for 192 case managers who provide medical access for abused children and $4.7 million for 91 foster care workers. (Thiswill replace federal Medicaid funding that was cut as part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005).

*$1.6 million for 285 disabled Utahans who need services at home who would otherwise require full-time institutional care. These people are on the “waiting list.”
Natural Resources
*$2.5 M for Wildlife Resources Employee Compensation. Lack of funding for this would result in a fee increase for hunters and fisherman.
Public Education
*$2.0 M for anticipated student growth in Applied Technology Programs.

*$2.3 million for Concurrent Enrollment growth.
Higher Education
*50 percent of the Operating and Maintenance costs and Utility Increases.

At $56 million that is about the extent of what we can fund. If more money were allocated to the committees, we would like to help fund the following priorities that ranked high with committees:

Criminal Justice
*$1.3 M for Guardian ad Litem improvements.
Capital Facilities and Administrative
*LeRay McAllister Critical Lands Fund.
Commerce and Revenue
*General Assistance to the Department of Workforce Services provides funds for the homeless, and physically and mentally handicapped.
Economic Development
*Centers for Excellence Funding will enhance Utah’s economy by improving Utah’s research industry at the University level. These programs lead to private commercial development across the state.

*Business Resource Centers provide “one-stop shops” for small businesses across the state for business consulting and management.

*Film Incentive Funding gives rebates for out of state filmmakers who film in Utah.

*Restore funding to Utah’s zoo’s which lost funding in recent years due to the down-turned economy.
Health and Human Services
*Drug Court growth which provides an alternative to incarceration.

*An additional $1,400,000 for disabled Utahans in addition to the amount proposed for the waiting list, above.
Higher Education
*Salary Retention for Higher Education

*The entire costs for Utility Rate Increases and Operation and Maintenance.

*Operation and Maintenance for New Buildings
Public Education
*Math, Reading & Utah Basic Skills Competency Test to help students seek remediation to help pass Utah Basic Skills test. This provides professional development for math teachers.

*Full Day Kindergarten for at risk students.

Stay tuned. We still have a long week left in this legislative session.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing that, with as big of a surplus as we have, that higher education is left in the dust. Every year, fewer and fewer students are able to afford a college education without incurring huge amounts of debt. While it is understandable in times of hardship that costs must rise, it is unfathomable to me that in a year of plenty such as this that the legislature chooses to make such an imprudent and short-sided decision.

Many of these students are doing the best they can to get through school while providing for their families at the same time. As they are unable to afford the crushing cost of college tuition, they take fewer classes, which in turn prolongs their graduation date. You should know that the longer a student takes to graduate, the more money it ultimately costs taxpayers.

Before you decide to sacrifice one of the most critical facets of our society on the altar of extreme "right-wing" political ideologies, I would suggest that you look to the long term needs of the state. In other words, you can keep the $75 or $90 I would get in return for these politically charged election year tax cuts and put it back in to higher education so my son can get his education and all the sooner become a productive tax-paying citizen as well.

Here are two links for reference:

Cut and paste these addresses into your web browser...

http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635186460,00.html

http://www.dailyutahchronicle.com/media/paper244/news/2006/02/17/News/Students.Balance.Work.School.With.Varying.Results-1617941.shtml?norewrite&sourcedomain=www.dailyutahchronicle.com

2/22/2006 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The numbers shown don't add up to $56 million. Estimating Higher Ed's O&M costs at $4 million, I get a total $30.9 million. Where is the other 25 million going?

2/22/2006 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Last year schools received about a 4.9% increase to the WPU--currently, 5% is being proposed. This year a lot of additional revenue surfaced, polls show the majority of Utahns would rather have it put into education, but our legislators force the issue of a $300 million tax cut?

It must be that new math.

2/22/2006 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sense a sea-change in the works. Legislators this year have fallen over themselves unlike years past with attention paid to gays, guns and intelligent design, in effect wasting legislative resources better spent on the budget and other priorities. Even conservative apologists have seen through the nonsense this year. I predict that various high-profile senators this year will no longer need to worry about lunch with lobbyists next year - these senators will be "former senators," eating lunch with their wives back in rural Utah from whence they came!

2/22/2006 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Brad Peterson said...

I am speaking in behalf of the students and teachers at my highschool.

The govenor of utah proposed that the public school system sould receive a 10% increase to the WPU. Somewhere in the legislature that was cut back down to the orrigonal 5% and the other 5% was given to supliment the transportation fund.

Im still doing my homework on this story, but i understand that this choice will be effecting the schools in bad ways. Many teachers are finding that they can no longer afford to be be teachers (this has to do with cost of insurance rising and their saleries inability to compensate). Anyone who is elegible to retire will probably be doing so, redering our schools without experienced teachers. Even some of the new teachers are considering a change in profession. Personally i cant immagine what schools will be like without the wisdom that experienced teachers have to offer. The teachers that inspire their students to be more than they could have ever dreamed, will they be gone? I pose the question, does the legislature care about building a new highway more than building the future generation?

Teachers are getting angry (as well as hundreds of other students like myself), yet are unwilling to go on strike. This is because the last time the teachers went on strike in behalf of the public school fund, the legislature punished the school system by lowering the WPU from 5% to 3%. This was compleatly the opposite of the desired result.

There has been talk around my own school of the students of my district taking the petition in our own hands, and going to strike as students. The government has heard too many complaints from teachers that they hardly let them voice their oppinion. I beleive its up to the students and parents to get involved.

The teachers have been working on different options to get their point accross, that dont jeapordize the schools WPU.

I encourage anyone within sight of this message to act. We need to put a greater priority on educating the future citezens politicians, doctors, teachers, scientists, and tax payers, of America!

2/23/2006 5:33 PM  

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