Public Education Budget
FY2013-14 Budget Summary
By UEA Policy and Research Director Jay Blain
The UEA advocated for a 3 percent increase on the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) throughout the 2013 Legislative Session and asked for as much when testifying before meetings of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. In the end, legislators settled on a 2 percent WPU increase. While it’s not the 3 percent we wanted, the outcome was nearly double what the Governor asked for and the highest increase in five years. It was also done in the face of the unknown effects on the state budget of the federal sequestration.
We entered the 2013 Legislative Session cautiously optimistic about the outcome for public education funding. Both one-time and ongoing revenue forecasts were up and everyone from the Governor on down was declaring education as a top priority for funding.
We were disappointed with the Governor’s proposed budget when it called for an increase in the WPU of just over 1 percent. This increase would barely cover the increase in the Utah Retirement System (URS) rate increase, leaving nothing for any other compensation items, including possible raises. We knew we had work to do with the Legislature to increase this amount.
We also advocated long and hard for the Legislature to cover the cost of new students entering the system. The approved budget fully funds growth throughout the Minimum School Program with new money. This means that all programs will receive increases based on enrollment growth.
A few other budget highlights:
- Early Intervention (Optional Full-Day Kindergarten) was funded with ongoing money this year when in the past it was one-time money.
- Teacher supply money was funded with the same amount and rules for distribution.
- The Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts was funded with $4 million one-time money.
While the UEA sees this as a good year considering all of the factors, this is only a beginning. We need a long-term strategy for funding public education in Utah that includes examining the revenue side as well. We will continue to work with policymakers to improve Utah’s education funding.
2013 Legislative Session Updates
The Legislature finalized the 2013-14 public education budget and sent it to the Governor for signature. HB2: Public Education Budget Amendments passed both the House and the Senate unanimously. This bill appropriates $139.8 million in new, on-going funding, and $16.8 million one-time money from the Education Fund.
The on-going appropriations include:
- $68.5 million to fund student enrollment growth;
- $47.7 million for a 2 percent increase in the WPU;
- Early intervention kindergarten funding;
- Dual-immersion funding;
- Fine Arts and Science Outreach; and
- Financial management for the Utah State Office of Education.
The one-time appropriations include:
- $5 million for teachers’ supply reimbursements (unchanged from the current year);
- Beverly Taylor Sorenson Elementary Arts program;
- Testing infrastructure grants;
- Utah Core Academy teacher development; and
- Special education add-ons.
Hundreds of teachers, classified school employees, parents, students and others packed the Capitol Rotunda March 11 in a show of support for public education. UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh presented Lt. Governor Greg Bell, Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart and Senate Assistant Minority Whip Pat Jones with more than 6,000 petitions urging the legislature to support a public education funding increase (view the petition).
“If we were to put all of these petitions end to end, it would reach from the Capitol Building all the way down State Street to the City County Building,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “This demonstrates the public support for additional public education funding.” (See more about the event)
The Executive Appropriations Committee presented a Budget Proposal that recommends a 2 percent increase the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) and $68.5 million for enrollment growth. It also restores the $25 million budget shortfall created by calculation errors at the State Office of Education last year. The budget now has to be written up into the final bills and approved by the full legislature.
Encouraging news from the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee! This Committee, which makes recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee for statewide funding, made a major change in direction with a recommendation to restore the Social Security and Retirement line item to the amount of about $25 million. This is approximately the amount of this year’s retirement rate increase. The UEA strongly advocated for this change (see more on this issue).
The Committee also voted to increase the WPU by 1 percent in addition to funding the retirement line item funding. Rep. Joel Briscoe moved to increase the WPU by 2 percent. His motion passed the with the House members on the Committee but failed with the Senate members. Sen. Stephen Urquhart then moved to recommend to the Executive Appropriations Committee that they raise the WPU as much as possible. That motion passed. The UEA continues to advocate for a 2-percent increase in the WPU along with restoring and fully funding the Social Security and Retirement line item.
There was much discussion about the prioritizations of the remaining budget items and the committee made some adjustments to the list that they had voted on prior to the meeting and then sent it on to the Executive Appropriations Committee where the final decisions will be made.
During the early weeks of the 2013 Legislative Session, the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee heard reports and budget requests from various entities. On Feb. 7, a state fiscal analyst summarized voted and board local levy programs for the subcommittee. The analyst discussed the different funding options and provided the Subcommittee with a report showing the funding detail. The analyst then summarized the minimum school program related to basic school program funding breakdown. He said there are a number of one-time funding allocations made last year that will dissolve this fiscal year without a re-allocation (approximately $18 million in one-time allocations). Among these were the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Elementary Arts Program, which is historically funded at $4 million, but was reduced to $2 million last year; Early Intervention funding; $800,000 for dual immersion, which allowed 22 new schools to start dual immersion programs last year; and teacher reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses on classroom supplies, which was funded at $5 million dollars last year.
The Governor’s Education Advisor Christine Kearl presented the Committee with an outline of the Governor’s budget recommendations, including numbers for enrollment and graduation rates. The Governor’s funding priorities were named as: the growth of new students coming into our system; additional money for computer-adaptive testing; a one-to-one initiative in technology (one student per one piece of technology); professional development for math and language arts teachers; teacher supply money; special education money; dual immersion funding; protection of student and teacher data; teacher evaluation tools; funding for the Beverly Taylor Arts Program; ACT funding; utahfutures.org online counseling tool; and funding for Utah data alliance. In response to a question, Kearle indicated the Governor’s recommendation for any new money was to add to the WPU.
During the first week the 2013 Session, the State Fiscal Analyst’s office provided the Committee with several budget documents, including a Public Education Budget Overview, Total LEA Revenues by Source and Major Budget-Related Issues for the 2013 Session and a budget summary.
State Superintendent Martell Menlove outlined State School Board budget priorities FY2013-14 budget, including:
- Full funding of student growth (anticipating 13,254 new students)
- 2 percent increase in the WPU
SB1: Public Education Base Budget passed both the House and the Senate on Feb. 1. This bill is the “base” appropriation for the support and operation of public education for the fiscal year of 2013-14. It sets the value of the weighted pupil unit initially at the same WPU value set for the 2013-13 fiscal year ($2,842) and sets the estimated minimum basic tax rate at .001691 for fiscal year 2013-14. (NOTE: This is just the “Base” budget. Near the end of the session, the House will introduce a supplemental appropriations bill that will contain the bulk of the additional education funding.)
Governor Proposes FY2014 Budget - Dec. 12, 2012
On Dec. 12, 2012, Governor Gary Herbert recommended a Fiscal Year 2014 Utah state budget that increases state public education spending by $297.6 million. His budget calls for $95.7 million to cover an anticipated enrollment increase of more than 13,000 new students and another $26.2 million to add 1.16 percent to the WPU. Other new ongoing allocations in the Governor’s budget proposal include $4.4 million in enhancements for at-risk students, $7.5 million for early intervention programs, $7.4 million for charter school local replacement and administration, and $2.9 million for a student device initiative.
The Governor’s office announced that it expects a $300 million increase in ongoing tax revenue for next fiscal year, plus a one-time surplus of $121 million.
In a statement released Dec. 12, the Utah Education Association expressed concern that, despite the new education money, the proposed budget could mean further cuts to Utah public school classrooms and would be a blow to already-low teacher morale.
UEA’s Position on Gov. Herbert’s Proposed Budget
- The Governor’s proposed budget addresses various priorities including funding student enrollment growth and providing educators with classroom supply money. The UEA supports these investments and the $297 million in proposed new education funding.
- Over the past four years, school districts have increased class sizes, eliminated teacher training opportunities, cut student instructional days, and reduced school employee take-home pay in order to balance budgets. The Governor’s proposed budget does not address compensating for these losses and will likely force many districts to make further cuts in these critical areas.
- The Legislative Fiscal Analyst estimates that the 1.16 percent proposed WPU increase will not even cover mandatory increases in costs associated with payroll (e.g.: employee retirement, Social Security, etc.), leaving no room for school districts to provide any type of employee cost-of-living raises.
NOTE: The UEA recommends that the line item for “Social Security and Retirement” be restored and placed “above the line” in order to adequately represent and fund these mandatory employee costs (see more on this issue).
- The proposed budget prioritizes several new and needed projects. Unfortunately, this funding comes at the expense of other critical classroom needs, like decreased class sizes, additional teacher training and competitive compensation that will attract and retain quality teachers in Utah classrooms. Utah’s K-12 educators do not appear to be a budget priority.
- Cuts that will likely be required under the Governor’s proposed budget will strike at the heart of already-low educator morale.
- The Utah State Board of Education and the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission have each called for a 2 percent WPU increase. The UEA has proposed a 3 percent increase on the WPU.
- Historically, survey after survey confirms that Utah taxpayers want tax dollars to fund education, and in fact, would be willing to pay additional taxes if that money is dedicated to public school teacher salaries and reducing class size.
- Utah has a long-term plan to fund roads. The state needs a long-term plan to fund public education and ensure a quality public school for every child.
- Utah’s education system is already compromised by lack of adequate funding. Utah remains last in the nation in per-student public education investment. While Utah taxpayers once spent a high amount on public education relative to incomes, that is no longer true when compared to other states.
$25 Million Budget Error Discovered - April 11, 2012
In a statement issued April 11, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) announced it discovered a miscalculation in the data used by the Utah Legislature to appropriate school funding for the upcoming fiscal year. This miscalculation left a shortfall of approximately $25 million between what was appropriated and what is needed to fully fund student growth for the upcoming school year.
“The Utah Education Association appreciates efforts made by the Governor, legislative leadership and the USOE to propose a temporary solution for this shortfall without impacting classrooms, schools or districts,” said UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “We have been assured that this discrepancy will not affect the public education dollars committed this year to our schools. However, since this error impacts ongoing public education funding, we have serious concerns about the effect this will have on future budgets.”
The UEA supports efforts to create a long-term plan for public education funding that will ensure a quality public education for every Utah student.
- Senate passes bill to make school funding more equal 03/12/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) Despite arguments that it would rob rich school districts to help poorer ones, the Senate passed a bill Monday that aims to make school funding more equal across the state.
- 'Robin Hood' school funding bill survives Senate, heads to House 03/12/2013
(Deseret News) A controversial proposal to redistribute the property taxes collected by local school districts narrowly cleared the Senate Monday after divisive debate.
- Senate passes slew of school technology bills Education 03/12/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) Amid debate about the role of lawmakers in education, Senate passes $15M in software, tech bills.
- Senate rejects bill to up principals’ budget power 03/12/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) The Senate voted 12-16 on SB110, which originally would have forced school districts to send at least 85 percent of state dollars received directly to schools. That money would then have had to be distributed based on student needs, and local principals would have been charged with preparing their own school budgets for district approval.
- Legislators go into final weekend with budget mostly done 03/09/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) Education is big winner as lawmakers tweak $13B spending package.
- GOP lawmakers' budget priorities don't include governor's initiative 03/08/2013
(Deseret News) Republican lawmakers signed off Thursday on a long list of their budget priorities, including pay raises for schoolteachers and state workers, new classrooms at Utah Valley University and fighting last summer's wildfires.
- Plan to help fund schools with liquor money fails 03/08/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) HB271, sponsored by Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, would have earmarked a quarter of the growth in liquor sales to public education — an estimated $7.5 million in 2014 and $14.5 million the following year.
- Schools having growth funded; state employees to get small raise 03/08/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) In addition to bumping up Utah’s last-in-the-nation per-pupil funding, the budget blueprint would fully cover the 13,254 new pupils expected to enroll in public schools next year.
- Lawmakers close, but communication barrage from public expected to affect final 2014 budget 03/08/2013
(Standard-Examiner) Funding for education, done using a weighted pupil unit, is also set to go up 2 percent, with a $50 million infusion in educational funding.
- Plan to fund schools with alcohol sales returns, fails again in House 03/07/2013
(Deseret News) HB271 would have set aside 25 percent of future Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control revenues for the funding of public education. The bill was defeated in the House last week amid opposition of tying school funding to liquor sales but a motion to reconsider the bill was successful after HB271 was changed from an ongoing funding mechanism to a one-time appropriation.
- Bill to give more funding to small schools clears committee 03/07/2013
(Deseret News) HB373, sponsored by Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, would appropriate an additional $3 million to the Necessarily Existent Small Schools program.
- House committee rejects education tax change 03/06/2013
(Standard-Examiner) HB 55 was geared toward making changes to tax and educational provisions to find a long-term solution to funding for public education in Utah, said Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, the bill sponsor.
- Income tax hike bill fails; more study planned for proposed severance tax increase 03/05/2013
(Deseret News) Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, the sponsor of both HB225, which would have increased the marginal income tax rate from 5 percent to as much as 7 percent; and HB98, which would have raised the severance tax on oil and gas from 3 percent, expressed frustration.
- Utah Teachers Unlikely To Receive Raise 03/05/2013
(KUTV-2) “We need to adequately fund the basic program,” UEA President Sharon Gallahger-Fishbaugh says. “We need to pay teachers fairly.”
- Plan to up taxes on rich to boost education dies 03/05/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) The House Revenue and Taxation Committee rejected HB225, which would have provided an estimated $113.8 million more a year for education by raising taxes by that much on the rich.
- Legislators try to squeeze, pinch dollars 03/01/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) Senate budget chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said he hopes to have the massive list narrowed down to something more manageable — having it 80 percent to 90 percent finalized — by Monday so leaders in the House and Senate can begin meeting with Gov. Gary Herbert to work through final sticking points.
- Lawmakers getting 'reality check' on budget 03/01/2013
(Deseret News) A legislative budget chairman offered what he called a "reality check" Thursday on finalizing the upcoming state budget, noting the actual revenues expected fall far short of what lawmakers hope to spend.
- School funding bill could bump property taxes 02/28/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) SB81 seeks to address what many have said is an ongoing problem in Utah education: Some school districts aren’t able to spend as much money on students as others, despite higher local property tax rates, simply because they’re in poorer areas of the state. Utah schools are funded largely through income tax, which is already distributed equally per student across the state, but property taxes also make up part of the school funding pie.
- Federal-budget doubts lead to shrinking Utah state revenue 02/25/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) Legislators had anticipated having $300 million in new revenues to use to build a state budget. But on Monday, those figures were scaled back by more than 10 percent, with $264 million in growth now forecast.
- State revenue projections down from $300 million to $264 million, lawmakers told 02/25/2013
(Deseret News) The latest state revenue estimates show growth in tax collections is expected to fall from $300 million to $264 million in the coming budget year, lawmakers learned Monday.
- Help us increase Utah public education funding! 02/20/2013
The UEA and other public education partners are encouraging the community to participate in "Public Education Day on the Hill," Monday, March 11, at 6 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda.
- A sinking ship: Stephenson bill ignores reality 02/19/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune Editorial) Instead of working to overcome the lack of funding that is undermining our children’s achievement and their futures, legislators continue to search for some way to appear to recognize the problem without actually doing anything to solve it.
- In clean air vs. ed money, schools win 02/13/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) Fiscal analysts figured the bill would cost an extra $2.3 million by 2015 — all coming out of education funds financed by income taxes. That’s because the bill would not just simply extend current credits, but also expand them a bit. Credits are due to expire on Dec. 31 unless they are extended.
- Students are not widgets 02/12/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune Editorial by retired educator Richard Heath) Another school year is half over and the Utah Legislature has returned to Capitol Hill, with some lawmakers once again full of new ideas for reforming our public schools. As an educator for the past 36 legislative sessions, I have always had a knot in the pit of my stomach during this blessed 45-day period.
- Education is lawmakers' No. 1 priority, but how? 02/11/2013
(Provo Daily Herald) Utah's voters are told every election by nearly every candidate that education will be their top priority once they are elected to office. The promise is easy to make and usually is sincere. The problem comes in the how.
- Schools headed for disaster 02/10/2013
(Editorial by teacher Judy Mahoskey) Seriously, lawmakers, why don't I see any bills to attend to serious immediate and long-term education funding? Laudably, Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, and Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake, have each suggested some tweaks to add a trickle to the education budget, but what we really need is an overhaul of our current tax system.
- House member jabs at Utah governor’s education claims 02/06/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) "To say higher ed is being treated better than K-12 education is a mischaracterization," said Kory Holdaway, a former Republican state lawmaker, who now works for the Utah Education Association. But Holdaway said Tierney was correct in saying that it has been four years since teachers received a cost-of-living adjustment and that if the Legislature adopts the governor’s proposal they won’t get one in the next year either.
- Senate unanimously passes transparency in education bill 02/05/2013
(Provo Daily Herald) With a unanimous vote the Senate forwarded a proposal to the House on Monday morning that would compel the state board of education to release the same financial information they receive from school districts throughout the state to the public.
- Senate passes school financial transparency bill 02/05/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) SB128 would require school districts to share school finance data they already collect on the state’s financial transparency website.
- Sen. Hillyard confident in positive budget numbers 02/05/2013
(Cache Valley Daily) "One of the things that we are going to have to come to a basic decision is what, if any, salary increase we'll have for state employees and teachers," Sen. Hillyard said. "That's always a very important concern for us as we look at these figures."
- It’s all about the money for state schools at Utah Legislature 02/04/2013
(Ogden Standard Examiner) How much money will state lawmakers have to pump into Utah schools is always the dominant issue each legislative session, but this year there is an added element of uncertainty. Fiscal issues in Washington, D.C., including the pending fiscal cliff, caused projected state revenues to go from black to red in a hurry.
- School funding 02/01/2013
(Spectrum Editorial) To get to that point, Utah has to step things up in the classroom and, most likely, in the pocketbook. Our state is dead last - by quite a few dollars - in per-student spending. And nothing short of a dramatic reduction in the Utah birthrate is going to change that anytime soon.
- Utah lawmakers start work on schools budget 02/01/2013
(Salt Lake Tribune) Funding for enrollment growth, other initiatives awaits federal fiscal cliff deal.
- Growing pains come with a cost for Utah public schools 02/01/2013
(Ogden Standard Examiner) The steady growth in population in the Beehive State comes with a price, and that price shows up every year as the state tries to fund the growth of new students in the public education system.
- Education is a key priority for Utah Legislature 02/01/2013
(KSL.com) Herbert's proposed budget set aside roughly two-thirds, almost $300 million, of the state's projected new revenues for public and higher education," a report in the Deseret News stated.
- Education key to Utah's economic prosperity, Gov. Gary Herbert says 01/31/2013
(Deseret News) "Education is the largest and most important investment Utah makes," Herbert said in his State of the State address Wednesday at the Capitol.
- Gov. focuses on education in State of State 01/31/2013
(Provo Daily Herald) Education and economic development are Gov. Gary Herbert's main priorities for the state this year.
- Guv’s budget gives more for Utah education, especially science 12/13/2012
(Salt Lake Tribune) He called for investing $298 million more in the state’s educational system, including especially targeting programs that increase the number of degrees and certificates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
- Herbert targets education in budget plan 12/13/2012
(Standard-Examiner) The Utah Education Association, a teachers' union that endorsed Herbert's re-election in November, said it was disappointed. The association said that the promised 1 percent pay raise will evaporate from paychecks after deductions for retirement and Social Security accounts and that Herbert added nothing for professional development.
Public Education Budget Archives