Rick Bowmer, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers gave final approval on Wednesday to budget amendments that increase funding of public education by $168 million.
In a unanimous 70-0 vote, members of the Utah House approved SB2, which includes $62 million for enrollment growth and another $62 million to raise per-pupil spending by 2.5 percent.
The budget also includes $3 million ongoing for a public-private preschool initiative sponsored by Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper; $1 million ongoing for after-school programing for children in poverty; $159,000 ongoing for suicide prevention efforts; and more than $34 million in one-time funding for various programs.
SB2 was approved by the Senate on Tuesday in a 27-0 vote. During presentation of the bill, Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-North Logan, co-chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee, said that more than 50 percent of new state revenue was awarded to public education.
He told his Senate colleagues the budget makes it clear to the public what the priority of the Legislature is in the state of Utah.
"You can tell them it is, was, and always will be public education," he said.
Both chambers have also passed SB3, which adds roughly $75 million in supplemental funding for higher education in the state. Included in that total is a $50 million appropriation for equity funding, which Utah's college and university presidents have agreed to award primarily to the state's fastest-growing campuses to create a per-student funding floor.
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