Republican Utah Senator Lyle Hillyard of Logan chairs the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
“We started off with a revenue figure of $383 million of new ongoing revenue. I’ve been using that until staff corrected me and said that’s the gross amount, by the time we subtract the costs of R&D funds and other commitments we have, we really only have $292 million. And I use that as a target, half of that for public education, that’s $146 million” Hillyard says.
Weighted Pupil Units, also known as WPUs are used to appropriate funds and provide equal educational opportunities across the state. Based on the latest census report figures, Utah is in last place in the nation when it comes to Per-Pupil Education Funding.
“We go through the money very quickly. Especially when you start talking about equity funding, you talk about at-risk kids. I was a little surprised to find out the homeless are not included in the count for at-risk kids. These are areas that we really need to be looking at,” Hillyard said. "Rep. Potter’s bill I think has about a $16 million fiscal mode just to take care of teachers in special-ed.”
North Logan Republican Representative Val Potter’s House Bill 233 would provide a salary supplement to teachers working in Special Education. The bill was introduced last week and is currently being held by the House Education Committee for review.
Potter is a member of the Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee. The committee is working on ways to fund the state's universities.
“We went through appropriations in higher education. The compensation will happen 2 percent for higher education employees," Potter said. "On the student growth and capacity, we’re presenting half of what was requested, but that may come back with the appropriations discussion and I’m hoping that it does. I know that there’s a push for public education this year, I support that, but I also feel like it shouldn’t be put on the backs of the other departments.”
Representative Val Potter, Ed Redd, Curt Webb and Senator Hillyard will meet at 7:30 on Saturday morning at the Cache County Administrative Building for another town hall meeting. The Utah Legislative Session ends on March 8.