GOP lawmakers' budget priorities don't include governor's initiative

Published: Thursday, March 7 2013 6:50 p.m. MST

Kory Holdaway, government relations director for the Utah Education Association, was pleased with much of what he saw on the GOP list, especially the funding for enrollment growth and the 2 percent increase in the state funding formula.

The more than $100 million in new, ongoing funding for public education, he said, "is a big deal and very appreciated." 

But Holdaway expressed concern that lawmakers didn't address the federal funds being lost by school districts as the result of the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration that took effect March 1.

The cuts, estimated at $9 million or more, largely will be felt by schools that serve low-income students and special education programs. Legislative leaders have said the state would not step in to make up lost federal dollars.

"I am a little disappointed that the Legislature has chosen to ignore the decrease," Holdaway said. "The local districts are going to have to raise that on their own."

Democrats, seeing the list for the first time Thursday, expressed frustration over what items weren't included.

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, said funding for the Sundance Film Festival and other Democratic priorities discussed in the Business, Economic Development and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee didn't make the final GOP cut.

The Republican's list for that subcommittee included everything from $1.5 million for state-controlled liquor stores to $95,000 for the Utah Marriage Commission, which would be enshrined into state law under pending legislation.

"I just don't even know what to say on this budget," Arent said. "This is a very different list in a lot of ways than what we saw."

Contributing: Dennis Romboy, Ben Wood and Mary Mellor

E-mail: lisa@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dnewspolitics

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