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Education Fighting for More Money

Education Fighting for More Money

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Richard Piatt ReportingState lawmakers and the Governor already have a tentative agreement over the state's nearly 9-billion dollar budget. But some key interests, including public education, don't feel they're getting their fair share.

The good news is there's more money than everyone thought there would be. The bad news for public education -- it's still a fight to get enough money.

The state capitol is inundated with rallies these days, people with real concerns about programs they depend on. For those on medicaid, lawmakers pledge to fund programs, including restoring vision and dental benefits that were trimmed from the budget a few years ago.

Joy Poncelo, Wants Benefits Restored: "I'm in dire need of dental work myself and I cannot afford the 30-90 dollars needed for an office call. And I can't afford to lose any more teeth than I already have."

At the same time, public education advocates are fighting for the amount pledged to them: 71-million dollars. Getting more money for education is always a struggle for teachers. But in the year of a surplus, some thought the Legislature could squeeze out much more.

Pat Rusk, Utah Education Association: "There's enough money in the general fund to meet the needs of health and human services. And there's plenty of money in the uniform school fund this year. We should accept nothing less."

Marlene Irons, Teacher: "It makes you feel a little bit worthless. Morale, this is my 31st year of teaching and morale is about as low as I've ever seen it."

The final budget numbers are still not available--that will probably come as early as tomorrow. And there is still a list of programs that aren't funded yet, which means the haggling will probably continue up to the end of the session.

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