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Report Finds Utah K-12 Funding Cuts Among Nation's Highest

PHOTO: According to a new report Utah is among the top states when it comes to cutting public education funding, and education experts warn of the consequences of repeated cuts to public schools and education. Photo credit: State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.
PHOTO: According to a new report Utah is among the top states when it comes to cutting public education funding, and education experts warn of the consequences of repeated cuts to public schools and education. Photo credit: State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.
October 28, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY - A new study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows education funding cuts in Utah rank among the nation's highest.

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah Education Association, says research shows Utah's per-pupil spending remains well below pre-recession levels.

"Public education funding has never been a priority," she says. "And now we're seeing a negative return on our lack of investment in public education."

Gallagher-Fishbaugh says when adjusted for inflation, the study shows Utah has cut investments in K-12 schools by 14 percent since 2008. The report ranks Utah eighth, while Oklahoma, Alabama, and Arizona lead the nation with the deepest cuts.

As the November 4th general election approaches, Gallagher-Fishbaugh says the governor and state Legislature should make the education of Utah's future workforce a top fiscal priority.

"They need to get back to what their job is in under our Constitution, and that is to adequately fund our public schools," she says. "That's not happening. If we narrow the focus and drop all the other stuff, perhaps we could really have a serious conversation about how we're going to make this happen."

According to Gallagher-Fishbaugh, it would take about $400 million in new funding each year to restore Utah's K-12 funding to pre-recession levels.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT