Gov. Walker Proposes 4% Funding Increase for Higher Ed

Gov. Walker Proposes 4% Funding Increase for Higher Ed

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah colleges and universities would see a four percent funding increase under a proposal made to the Board of Regents Thursday by Gov. Olene Walker.

Much of that money would pay for cost-of-living salary raises and increased health and retirement benefits for higher education employees. The $39 million increase for the fiscal year beginning next July would include $24.9 million in new state money.

"And I want to make sure we continue to fund important initiatives of higher education, which in turn drive our economy," Walker said.

Walker urged the state's research universities to join with businesses to boost economic development.

"Higher education is the engine of economic development," Walker said. "With the research programs at schools like the University of Utah and Utah State University and the start-up businesses they influence, we have great potential to transfer technology from research to business and back into research."

Walker's budget recommendations assume the 4.5 percent tuition increase adopted by regents in October. Individual schools may opt for additional hikes later.

The governor is scheduled to release her budget recommendations for all state operations on Monday.

Walker's higher education recommendations came a day after saying she would seek $121.7 million for public education during the upcoming 2004 legislative session. She said the 6.9 percent increase in education spending will be the main priority of the budget proposal she plans to release Monday.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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