A charter member of the State Board of Regents urged legislators to "send a message to higher education that the hemorrhaging of higher education is over and we're on our way up."
Salt Lake attorney Donald Holbrook, who has served on the board since its creation in 1969, told the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee that it should fund the 8 percent increase requested for the state's nine colleges and universities. The recommendations of the governor and legislative analyst are approximately half the regents' request.Holbrook and other regents from the 16-member board argued higher education's case for what they called a "bare bones budget."
Holbrook said the defeat of the tax initiatives was a mandate that Utahns want to maintain quality education.
Rep. Martin Stephens, R-Farr West, said the Republican caucus regards education funding as a top priority.
But Sen. Dixie Leavitt, R-Cedar City, said he didn't know "if all of us feel that mandate." He said he read the election results as a mandate to look more closely at tax dollars. The $21.8 million increase requested by higher education may not seem like a lot, but it must be weighed against the total state budget. Every state agency could find a good use for more money, he said.