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Concerns Over Education Funding Linger

Concerns Over Education Funding Linger



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Richard Piatt reporting The 2004 Legislature has adjourned. But there are still lingering concerns about funding education and higher education.

The citizens of Utah have identified education funding as their number one concern in poll after poll in recent years.

So: How about it? Has the Utah Legislature stepped up to the plate this year?

The bottom line is: It depends on your point of view.

If you ask Republican Leadership at the Legislature they'll tell you education did well.

More than half of the new state money available this year went to education: more than 109-million dollars.

But, the reality is that money will fund growth and not much else.

There is also new money---15-million dollars--devoted to Governor Walker's reading program.

So, while some lawmakers defend the funding this year, education advocates continue to yearn for more, permanent sources of money.

Rep. Michael Styler/(R) Delta: "I am very pleased with this budget. I think we're doing---I can go back to my fellow teachers and education community and say, we've done all we can and we probably did more than we should have done. "

Pat Rusk/Utah Education Association "If this session is nothing else, it is a call to action for the citizens of utah."

Rep. Pat Jones/(D) Holladay: "We need a long term funding plan for public education. A band-aid approach is not going to cut it any more."

In the meantime: What about Higher Education?

Lawmakers also defend the 21-million dollars plus of new state money for colleges and Universities.

But that is far below what those colleges and universities need. And the difference will probably be made up with tuition increases.

Education and higher education could have done a lot worse this year. But it's also clear that hard choices are going to have to be made to offset a true disaster in the next decade.

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