While many states are floundering because of struggling economies, Utah seems to be on the upswing as Governor Gary Herbert signed two bills giving $24 million of state funding to higher education.”We have a balanced budget,” Herbert said at the signing. “We are building buildings for higher education. What is lost on a lot of people is that we have opportunities to do things because we are fiscally prudent. Understand how these two are connected together.”Herbert signed House Bills 4 and 57 Tuesday at Utah State University. House Bill 57, sponsored by Rep. John G. Mathis, R-District 55, allows for the development of the first doctoral-level veterinary program in Utah.House Bill 4 is the General Obligations and Bonds Authorizations Bill, sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-District 8, providing funding for a new business building and a new Tooele Applied Technology College building located on USU land on the USU Tooele education corridor.The new doctor of veterinary medicine program, which has been in the works for more than three years, creates a partnership between USU and Washington State University. Students in the program spend the first two years at USU and finish their last two years at WSU.Present at the signing was USU President Stan Albrecht. “We’ve worked on this for a number of years, and now we are in a position to move forward with something that is great for USU and the state of Utah,” Albrecht said.The doctoral veterinary medicine (DVM) program will accept 30 students each year, 20 state residents and 10 nonresidents. The program begins accepting applications in fall 2011 with coursework beginning in 2012.DVM hopeful and current pre-veterinary student at USU, Amy Nelson, was at the signing.”If I get accepted,” Nelson said, “I can stay here in Utah. I won’t have to pay out-of-state tuition and have to go somewhere else.”A question surrounding the bills is why now, during a time of tight budgets. Representative Jack Draxler, R-District 3, addressed this concern.”We’ve had a window of opportunity with WSU because they had space, and we had this one opportunity to save the taxpayers of Utah millions of dollars,” Draxler said regarding the DVM program.”As for the bonding, building costs are extremely attractive right now, and we can build buildings for significantly less than we expect to be able to build them in a few years from now,” Draxler said of the new business building. “We have some encouraging signs in our economy that hopefully means we are on the upswing. The timing was now for both of these issues.”The business building, totaling $30 million, was funded with $14 million of state funds and a $16 million private match. The building will be approximately 100,000-square-feet and located just south of the current George S. Eccles Business Building on the USU campus.The $14.9 million Tooele Applied Technology Building received $9.9 million in state funding and $5 million from Tooele City. The 67,000 square foot building will stand on property owned by USU immediately west of the new Tooele County School District Community Learning Center.Dean Doug Anderson of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at USU said, “Our goal is to build a top-tier business school. This will enable us to continue training outstanding leaders from Utah.”While training leaders is not a cheap thing to do, Herbert said the state of Utah is maintaining the AAA bond rating, one of eight states in the country, despite having a high-birth rate and growing population. He said that 14,700 students entered public education this year, and that training them to compete in the global market is key to Utah’s economic success.”This is remarkable in light of the economy we’ve gone through, the great recession,” Herbert continued. “What we are about here is not just today, but tomorrow. We are creating job opportunities for tomorrow. The focus is about the students and improving our ability to compete in the free market.”
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