Governor Proposes 4% WPU Boost — December 7, 2016
"Our No. 1 budget priority is education," said Governor Gary Herbert as he released his FY2018 state budget on Dec. 7, noting that "nearly 80 percent of all the new money in this budget recommendation goes to education."
The governor’s budget calls for $68 million to fully fund the more than 10,000 new students expected next fall and $116 million to increase the Weighted Pupil Unit, the basic public school funding mechanism, by 4 percent. The budget also proposes $9 million in one-time money for teacher supplies, same as was budgeted in the current year.
In his remarks, the governor called recent efforts of the business-led "Our Schools Now" initiative to increase taxes for education “premature,” worrying that a tax increase "could have a dampening effect on our economic growth and expansion."
Instead of the tax increase, Governor Herbert urged reform of existing taxes to support schools. He specifically cited examples such as limiting the number of income-tax exemptions and credits and uncollected taxes on online sales.
“The Governor’s proposed 4 percent WPU increase, while helpful, falls far short of the significant funding effort required to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse student population and address Utah’s severe teacher shortage,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews. “We agree with the Governor that it’s time to look at things that are eroding the state budget like earmarks and tax breaks.”
"We call on our legislators to take bold steps to address the funding challenges facing our public schools by making a long-term commitment to increase revenue for public education. Utah’s students deserve the best education we can give them and every opportunity for success," she said.
David Crandall, chairman of the Utah Board of Education, said he was appreciative of Herbert's emphasis on the WPU, which goes directly to school districts." I think both the governor and the state [school] board value the concept of local control," Crandall said.
2016-17 Budget Summary: 3% on WPU - March 15, 2016
The Utah Legislature passed a 2016-17 budget that includes $90 million to address enrollment growth, and a 3 percent increase, about $80 million, in the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU). Other budget items include $20 million for charter schools and a $15 million grant program for classroom technology. This graphic shows that public education represents 30 percent of the state budget and received 41 percent of the new funding. This graphic shows what was budgeted for all students compared to selected groups, such as charter schools...more
Public Education Budget Archives