The Utah Partnership for Educational and Economic Development has sent out a call for $50,000 each from higher education, public education and the Department of Community and Economic Development to underwrite the operating expenses of the partnership next year.
How the requests are being handled by the agencies and whether they will survive Gov. Norm Bangerter's budget-setting process is in question. When the partnership was created last winter, the question of how its operations would be financed was not clearly delineated, leaving some differences of opinion.A memo by Donald B. Holbrook, chairman of the partnership board, requested agency participation and said that the involvement of all three agencies is essential to the nature of the partnership.
However, Bangerter was "caught by surprise" by the partnership request for state funds, said Colleen Colton, education aide to the governor. "He probably will not be favorable to it. It is safe to assume the money won't be in the governor's budget." She said it was the governor's assumption when the partnership was formed that private sources would be tapped for the ongoing operations.
The $150,000 in state funds would support a $70,000 salary for James R. Moss, executive director ($90,300 including benefits), and pay for office furnishings and expenses.
Moss said that the first year's budget of $150,000 was raised from business sources.
"We've been successful in that. Now we need to demonstrate state support," Moss said.
Moss, who was the state superintendent of public instruction when the partnership deal was struck, believes it was understood that the three state agencies directly involved with the partnership would seek state appropriations for its ongoing operation after the initial set-up of the office. However, financing for specific initiatives of the partnership would come from other sources, he said.
Holbrook, in his letter, said, "We feel it is equally important for the business community and for education and state government to support the establishment and operation of the partnership office since each group helped to create the partnership, is jointly responsible for its operation and benefits from its work."
The 1990 Legislature appropriated $15 million for a first-year funding for the Utah Technology Initiative, the first major activity sponsored by the partnership, but did not provide money to run the partnership itself. Private sources have picked up the bills for setting up an office for the partnership and paying the salary of its executive officer.
The office of the commissioner for higher education has put a $50,000 request into its budget for the partnership, said Cecelia Foxley, associate commissioner of higher education.
However, the request is in the commission's fourth-level priority list, and funding seldom reaches that low into the "wish list," Colton said.
The higher education budget is to be finalized during a meeting of the Board of Regents Oct. 26.
The Department of Community and Economic Development also reportedly has included a $50,000 request in its budget, although Deseret News attempts to reach agency officials to verify that have not been successful.
V. Jay Liechty, president of the State Board of Education, said earlier that public education also would request $50,000 for the support of the partnership. The viability of the partnership is important enough that the state agencies should provide funding, at least at the outset, Liechty said.
However, a motion during a recent meeting of the board in Nephi to add the $50,000 to the education budget did not get support from the board.
While the board fully supports the partnership, said Neola Brown, board vice chairman, she understood the board had not agreed to provide funding as part of the budget.
The board heard a presentation by Kent Westergard, a Parker-Hannifan Corp. official, who said some businesses prefer to work directly with schools, rather than through the partnership. His business has relationships with schools in Weber County, he said. When a high school machine-shop teacher needed tool posts, for instance, he and two other businessmen helped purchase them.
"We did this without the assistance of a $90,000 administrator," he said.
The governor is expected to make his budget proposals public in mid-December. Department hearings will begin in late October and continue through November.