The governor said his top legislative priority this year is to fund growth and innovation in the state's education system. His proposed budget contains an additional $111 million for public schools, including a "modest" pay raise for teachers.
Democrats said Herbert's education plans reflect what they have been saying for a long time. And now that the state's economy is headed in the right direction, they said it is time to invest in Utah schools.
Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake, touted Democrats' public education plan to provide every student an excellent teacher, individualized attention, world-class curriculum and neighborhood and family support.
For many years, Utah has ranked first in business, economic development, tourism, science, technology and research, Romero said.
"So why is it that our schools continue to rank 43rd in the nation?" he said.
The “Best Schools Initiative,” Romero said, includes a funding plan that repriortizes resources without raising taxes, he said. "We simply need to change our focus in order to do what’s best for Utah’s kids."
Litvack said he's focused on what Utah can do now in education and other areas, and doesn't want to draw lines in the sand.
House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, said the state has a history collaboration among Republicans, Democrats and the governor.
"It's not by accident" that Utah is where it is today, he said, adding he would "love" for the federal government to see the level of cooperation the state has established.
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