Governor Herbert did the last of his yearly bill signing Wednesday morning at Oquirrh Hills Middle School in Riverton. An auditorium of students watched as he signed three education bills into law.
The bills are meant to discourage bullying, improve educator evaluations and cut costs for new teachers. Herbert said a bill that removes licensure costs is a step in the right direction to better compensate Utah teachers.
“I think teachers should feel encouraged," says Herbert. "I think there is a significant change of attitude in the legislature and others out there in the marketplace that say we need to thank our teachers for the good work they’re doing."
Herbert pointed to the 4% budget increase for the state’s Weighted Pupil Unit which funds teacher salary. In past years Utah has been in the bottom 20 of U.S. states when it comes to compensation. And Herbert admitted Utah is still not where it needs to be.
Also in attendance was Democratic State Senator Luz Escamilla who had some slightly stronger words.
“There’s a crisis and we can’t recruit people when we’re paying those salaries," says Escamilla.
Escamilla says teachers still deserve much more. And she worries about a time when it will get even harder to find good candidates for Utah classrooms.
These bills were part of 535 that lawmakers passed this year. A record for the state with only one veto from Herbert.