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'Challenged' General Fund Means More Appropriation Requests For Education

Salt Lake City, Utah, Utah Capitol, in winter
Brian
/
Wikimedia Commons
One month into the 2020 Legislative Session, Utah lawmakers say say the general fund isn’t going to be able to fulfill many of the appropriation requests.";

The time for appropriations is coming to a close in the 2020 Legislative Session, and according to district 3’s House Representative Val Potter, the general fund is “challenged.”

“We have numbers coming in next week. I don't know exactly where they're going to be, but we project them to be down," Potter said. "So we know we're going to have some challenges there. Every department other than public education and higher education will have cuts to make.”

Republican Senator Lyle Hillyard, of Cache County, said because of the strain on the general fund, higher education committees are seeing a higher number of appropriation requests that should be coming from the general fund, but are instead proposed to higher ed because of fewer budgetary constraints. 

“There was a request made to increase the funding for our animal science lab, which really needs to be done to take care of the animal diseases across the state," Hillyard said. "Well, that really is a natural resource agricultural request, but they can gear it towards higher ed. because Utah State is the administrator of it.”

Hillyard said another example is a peer tutoring appropriation request from Dixie State University that should be going through the public education fund, but because of DSU’s involvement, it would be funded through higher ed. He says the difference between funding from higher ed and public ed isn’t as big as requests that could be funded elsewhere. 

Despite potential education cuts the budget may face, Hillyard said one priority he’s working on is extended kindergarten opportunities — especially in rural parts of the state — to help students meet state standards.

“We're living in a different world now than they were when I grew up. And I have older people say, 'Well, I got along without kindergarten,'" Hillyard said. "They didn't have the TV playing in their home all the time. They didn't have parents addicted to drugs that we have now in our society. Sad, but we need to make sure we reach out and save our children.”

Hillyard says the Public Education Appropriation subcommittee is ready to make its recommendations Tuesday night.