Utah governor unveils $12.9B budget proposal

BOUNTIFUL, Utah (AP) — Millions of additional dollars would be devoted to public schools and higher education under Gov. Gary Herbert’s state budget proposal unveiled Monday.In all, Herbert said he would devote $2.5 billion to public education out of his $12.9 billion spending plan for the state’s next fiscal year starting July 1. The additional money would include $41 million would help cover an enrollment increase of 12,500 students during the next school year, he said.Herbert also set aside a $93 million funding increase for public colleges and universities.A budget summary released by Herbert shows that state revenues are climbing to $5 billion from a low of $4.2 billion two years ago.Utah is out in front of many states recovering from the national recession that started in 2008.”Utah’s economy has markedly improved,” Herbert wrote in his budget recommendations. “After every recession in the past 60 years, Utah’s economy has recovered at a faster pace than the U.S.”If the moderate national recovery continues as expected, Utah will be well positioned for a strengthening recovery in 2012,” he added.Utah is accumulating a $400 million surplus over austerity budgets of the past years, the governor’s budget aides have said.Medicaid would get $156 million more under Herbert’s proposal, covering an additional 39,000 recipients this fiscal year and next, he said.Of the money devoted to education, $9.3 million would go to applied technology schools, and a $6.5-million increase would be sent to the University of Utah Medical School to educate another 20 students, Herbert said.The governor said he would also devote another $20.4 million to the state’s economic development efforts, helping to add 100,000 jobs to the state’s economy by June 2012.The budget will be discussed by legislators when Utah’s session opens Jan. 23.

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