Budget deal includes $10 million cut for public education

Budget deal includes $10 million cut for public education

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and GOP leaders from the House and Senate have reached a deal on a new budget that includes a $10 million cut to public education.

House Speaker David Clark, R-Santa Clara, is characterizing the cut as minimal.

"I would actually refer to it as ‘decimal dust' when you start talking about almost $3 billion and $10 million we were unable to backfill," Clark told KSL Newsradio in an interview Wednesday morning.

Roughly $8 million of the cuts come from capital outlay -- money designated for the construction of new buildings.

"We absolutely did not try to take it out of the classroom," Clark said.

Clark says he's proud the Legislature was able to backfill with ongoing state money most of a $293 million public education shortfall. Last session, federal stimulus dollars were used to close the gap, but that money is now going away.

"I think we've done all we can to hold them harmless," Clark said.

Senate Republicans had pushed for a $21 million cut to public education.

Lawmakers in the agreement also said they would restore $6.3 million to public school transportation that was to be slashed. That money is expected to come from the $1-per-pack increase in the tobacco tax.

Gov. Herbert had originally threatened to veto a tobacco tax increase, but the deal struck with lawmakers is expected to come with a green light on the hike.

E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

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