Provo School District employees have asked Gov. Norm Bangerter how long they will be asked to do more work for less money.
In a meeting with administrators, teachers and staff, Bangerter said, "I know it doesn't help to say you are doing a great job when you are not compensated in monetary ways. I'm not sure I have all the answers."Bangerter did, however, suggest a few answers to the problem. If he is re-elected he said he would be "willing to go to the wall to get the money" to compensate for the cost of living.
In the meeting last week, teachers told the governor that they have not had a wage increase for three years.
"I think we will have the money to give you an increase next year," he said. "I can't guarantee it yet, but the preliminary numbers indicate we will be able to do that."
Bangerter said raises may come because the state is in economic recovery and there is some money in the budget this year.
"I'm not going to raise taxes, but I promise I will continue to give education the best break in the budget of any department," he said.
Other solutions would be to bring parents and teachers together and get the community interested, he said. With that type of involvement, districts have a better chance of getting the money they need.
"We know what your budget challenges have been," Bangerter said. "We recognize there hasn't been the money you would like to have, but we have tried to put the ingredients in the system to allow you to succeed.
"Contrary to what many people believe, we have the best education system for the money in America. I think your district is one of the best we have. Whenever you get an award, it points out many of the excellent schools we have in the state."
The governor said education is important because Utah's work force is expected to grow by 10 percent in five years and "we want to hire Utah people that are ready for jobs."
"We have a problem with vocational education in Utah because everyone wants to go to college," he said. "In our homes we need to do a better job not to make it seem bad to be a carpenter or an electrician. That is a major challenge we face. It is a respectable way to make a living."
Bangerter also responded to questions about the tax rebate.
"I could have made a solid argument to put all $80 million in education or all $80 million in highway construction, but when I raised taxes, I promised to give back some money if we missed the projections, and we did that."
He said some people believe returning the money was a political move to buy votes for Bangerter, but it was better for the economy to have the money in the hands of the people instead of the hands of the government.
"We will probably get back $10 million to $20 million back in the coffers from sales tax," Bangerter said.