SALT LAKE CITY — "Education is the largest and most important investment Utah makes," Gov. Gary Herbert said in his State of the State address Wednesday evening — his actions seem to indicate that the statement was more than just words.
Herbert's proposed budget set aside roughly two-thirds, almost $300 million, of the state's projected new revenues for public and higher education," a report in the Deseret News stated.
"That figure would cover the $137 million that legislative analysts estimate is required to keep up with growth, as well as provide some potential funds for compensation, class size reduction, early intervention programs and the expansion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics - or STEM - programs," the article states.
In his address, Herbert also re-emphasized his goal of having 66 percent of Utahns obtain a college degree or certificate by 2020. He called on lawmakers to pass a resolution supporting that plan.
Despite the increase in funding, many think that it is simply not enough. Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said, "I think that we need to come up with greater sources of revenue with greater funding for public education. I think the governor is reluctant to propose any new revenue. I think that's a problem."
But it isn't just spending that may need reform. In a recent column, Jay Evensen recounted a discussion he had with his son about Utah public education.
"What do you say when your child, a high school senior, comes home frustrated because he is forced to sit in a class where the teacher is meticulously showing students how to send an email?" Evensen asked.
After recounting much of the conversation he had with his son, Evensen finally concluded that public education might "teach effective lessons of bureaucracy" but needs some much needed reform.
It is obvious that education reform and spending are included in the top five issues in the Legislature this session, and is something to watch closely it continues.