Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s 2014 budget proposal includes an increase in funding for public education, specifically for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM efforts.
With an estimated $421 million of new revenue predicted for the next fiscal year, Governor Herbert carved out an additional $298 million for public education in the budget plan he unveiled Wednesday. The proposal includes an additional $96 million for enrollment growth and an extra $26 million for the Weighted Pupil Unit or WPU which includes teacher pay. The governor’s budget also sets aside about $30 million to encourage math and science related degrees and certificates at Utah colleges and universities and $5 million for STEM efforts in grades 4-8.
“We’re losing too many people in grades 4-8 that don’t have the math skills necessary to go on and achieve in high school," Herbert said. "And that precludes them from going into college and university study and becoming engineers, scientists, mathematicians, etc…”
Martell Menlove is the Deputy State Superintendent and will assume the role of state superintendent in January. He says the governor carried out most of the recommendations the state board of education made except for the increase in the WPU. What the governor proposed is slightly more than a one percent increase.
“We’d talked about a 2 percent increase in the value of the weighted per pupil unit and as he explained, they didn’t get that far," Menlove said. "But I think if you look at the state board’s budget and his budget, that’s the main area that there would be some difference.”
Overall 63 percent of the entire state budget would go to public education next year under the Governor’s plan.
Herbert says his budget is consistent with his goal to get two thirds of Utah’s adult population to have a college degree or other post high school certificate by 2020.