Before this week's legislative special session addressing a state budget shortfall, Governor Huntsman said he didn't want public education funds to suffer any cuts. Representative Ron Bigelow says it is hard to cut education programs when school has already begun, and believes cuts aren't necessary.
"The debate always comes up, why are you not cutting public education? Well, it's a very easy answer, most legislators don't want to do it and the public doesn't want to do it. So, why would we do that unless there were some very, very serious problems, and we are not at that point," Bigelow said.
But Representative Kory Holdaway disagrees, saying there are several new public education programs that have not been implemented or funded that should have been cut, like a computer program for pre-school students and incentive pay for teachers.
"Over the last two years we've funded public education at record levels, and know we are saying we are going to hold them harmless. That is a little bit cause for concern, it just doesn't sit well, when we've got new programs coming online that haven't even had people hired for those programs at the expense of others. I think public education has some responsibility to participate in the budget cuts," Bigelow said.
For the 2010 fiscal year, lawmakers now project they'll have to make $76 million dollars in cuts for public education in January's legislative session.
(An earlier version mistakenly identified Representative Bigelow as Representative David Clark.)