SALT LAKE CITY – More income tax revenue for Utah means a state budget surplus.
And Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah Education Association, says the $242 million surplus should benefit schools on the local level.
Gov. Gary Herbert has announced that the surplus for the most recent fiscal year is all in Education Funds.
So, Gallagher-Fishbaugh says the money can make up for some of the serious budget cuts made to schools during the recession.
“We’ve had cutbacks in terms of the number of teachers we have teaching,” she points out. “We’ve had cutbacks in terms of the number of paraprofessionals that are helping out in Special Education classrooms.
“So absolutely, I would hope it would go directly to classrooms to impact students and teachers.”
The governor has said $120 million of the surplus will go to the Education Rainy Day Fund. He says the balance could be used for education or economic development.
Gallagher-Fishbaugh says she hopes that state lawmakers won’t play politics with the education money.
“There tends to be a bit of a micromanaging on the part of some in the legislative body to specify where certain funds need to go,” she maintains. “And that’s absolutely contrary to the local control issue.”
She adds the budget surplus is a good sign of the state’s economic recovery and hopefully, an indicator of future windfalls for education.