(KCPW News) Utah lawmakers on a committee that oversees education funding were deadlocked this morning after spending two hours trying to decide where in the education budget to fit $91 million in unallocated money. Lawmakers trimmed the budget by $173 million, but are going back to fill in some holes. Republican Senator Chris Buttars says although the outcome is still up in the air, that doesn’t mean the committee met in vain.
“You know it’s a messy process, it’s not going in and someone’s in control and forcing everyone into a corner one way or the other,” said Buttars. “And then when you consider having to make the cuts that we were required to do, it was a tough process and we were not able to come to a collective decision. It just goes to prove that the process works.”
The committee was especially divided over signing bonuses for highly qualified math and science teachers. Buttars recommended pulling $2 million from class-size reduction money to fund the bonuses, but that motion and several other recommendations failed.
State Superintendent Larry Shumway says the continued debate over local versus state control of school funding had committee members at odds.
“That’s the dynamic that we’re watching, this tension between state initiatives driven by the legislature and getting out of that role and leaving all that to local boards, charter boards and district boards of education,” says Shumway.
The committee’s inaction means the education budget will likely be decided by the legislature’s top budget committee, the Executive Appropriations Committee.
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