Children in more poor families will have medical insurance.
Middle school students will have greater breathing room and attention.And 10 more Utah Highway Patrol troopers will cruise the state's roads and highways.
The Utah Legislature approved most of the state's $6.4 billion budget for fiscal
1999 Monday. And smooth sailing for the documents that pay for the state's business may mean early closing time for lawmakers Wednesday, the Legislature's final day.
"This is an excellent budget," House Budget Chairman Mar-ty Stephens, R- Farr West, told his colleagues.
"We have put more than $100 milllion more into public education, we've built many new beds in corrections and we took care of our transportation responsibilities," he said.
"I think things are coming together reasonably well," Gov. Mike Leavitt said Monday. "There are some things I would change, but compromises must be made."
Salt Lake Democratic Rep. Gene Davis said he wanted to point out "we continue not to address all the people in human services who really need our help." There was little public criticism of the budget otherwise.
The budget, which grew by 2.6 percent over 1998, is made up of two bills: the General Appropriations Act and the Minimum School Finance Act. Most House Democrats voted against the General Appropriations bill, which includes the bulk of state funding, including higher education, but supported all funding for the public schools in the school finance act.
Talk of belt-tightening dominated budget discussion when the session began Jan. 20.
The roads will cost a fortune, lawmakers said. Be cautious and conservative, legislative leaders told budget chairmen.
With a few prominent exceptions, most areas were held to what Leavitt said Monday was an "aggressive but responsible" budget.
There will be more money for tobacco-use prevention and education, more money for select museums and libraries and more money to encourage Utahns to join the depleted Utah National Guard.
People may notice subtle effects of the 1999 budget, too.
For example, lawmakers have OK'd a pot of money to help state agencies correct the "Year 2000 problem," which has computer systems statewide unable to comprehend data attached to the date marking the new century.
This is money devoted to a cause that people might not notice until there is trouble," said Lynne Koga, director of the governor's Office of Planning and Budget.
The state's payroll system needs to correct this problem. So does the Utah State Tax Commission and the Office of Recovery Services. "It's something a person may not notice until his driver's license has a problem or his paycheck is messed up," Koga said.
Funding small and large was approved Monday: $1.737 billion in the minimum school fund and $4.58 billion in the general budget bill.
Lawmakers and Leavitt have talked about a $6.1 billion budget, but this amount does not include several categories of transportation funding. With $241 million in various bonds added in, budget documents distributed Monday totaled $6.385 billion - the largest ever in state history.
Components of the transportation funding stymied some Democrats.
"Many of us think it's a mistake to spend $27 million on a Legacy Highway that may never be built," said Minority Leader Dave Jones, D-Salt Lake. The state simply can't afford it, he said.
"We're already siphoning off money we need for growth to rebuild I-15 . . . the Legacy Highway on top of that . . . It's a major boondoggle," Jones said.
There was some grousing about segments of the enormous, 227-page bill, but conciliation on a handful of topics quashed tensions between legislative leaders and the governor, who recommended an ambitious budget with across-the-board improvements for state programs and roads.
Leavitt wanted a 4 percent raise for the state's employees; lawmakers said they'd give 3 percent - plus some spot hikes where salaries were egregiously low. The two compromised at 3.5 percent plus a few spot pay hikes.
The governor wanted $13.6 million to reduce overcrowded middle school classrooms by three students. Lawmakers were going to give $5 million to the effort, then threatened to spread it out over all grades. They compromised at $9 million devoted only to critically impacted middle school classrooms.
Leavitt wanted $4 million for the Industrial Assistance Fund, used to attract big business to the state. Lawmakers initially committed to $700,000, but later found $1 million more.
The governor wanted 15 new highway patrol troopers. Lawmakers settled on 10.
"Yeah, I wish we could have paid (to reduce class sizes) by three (students) instead of two. Yeah, it would have been better to get 4 (percent) instead of 3.5 (percent)," Leavitt said.
But the two houses of government started out with a $20 million difference in estimates about how much state money there was to spend.
"Given that, realistically, that was as close as we could get," Leavitt said of the final document passed Monday.
Last-minute funding during the 45-day session is part of the hope and frustration for state-supported programs.
Lawmakers plugged a few holes Friday when they culled $7.5 million from eclectic sources - $3 million from a waste tire recycling fund, $271,000 from increased Poison Control Center fees, $3.3 from Medicaid, $1 million from public education reserves and $200,000 left over from the economic development budget.
They bought a few things. They increased dispatcher pay with $125,000, followed through on their commitment to boost corrections wages with another $600,000 and put a large chunk toward class-size reduction.
But all was not rosy on the budgetary front.
Lawmakers also slapped a few state agencies with a stern warning: "Shape up, or pay your own way."
Lawmakers cut the state's contributions to the Utah Technology Finance Corp., a quasi-public agency. A pending audit shows major problems within the agency, according to lawmakers.
They also threatened to jerk funds from the Utah Travel Council, and members of a subcommittee said the division had been unresponsive to legislative concerns about the division's actions.
Lawmakers eventually found the travel council $300,000 more than last year. But Rep. Bill Hickman. R-St. George, who criticized the agency and led the charge to withhold finding, said, "but we made them tap dance to get that."
The final act in the state's budget play comes late Wednesday when the "Bill of Bills" comes before lawmakers. Technically an amendment to Monday's work, the Bill of Bills is the request for payment for all services that lawmakers have approved with their legislation.
More money will be spent then, as legislators maneuver for the few dollars not yet allocated in the session's waning hours.
Also Monday, lawmakers passed a "supplemental act" for 1998 funding, which opened up this year's budget and injected another $18.6 million.