March 7, 2011
Education officials resist proposed to cap state spending
(Brian Maffly, Salt Lake Tribune) — Public and higher education officials are lobbying the House to reject a proposed constitutional amendment to cap state expenditures, arguing it would hamstring efforts to accommodate an ever-growing number of students.
If it became law, House Joint Resolution 37 could make it impossible for the state to dramatically increase higher education attainment levels envisioned in a recently adopted plan, according to Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg. The HigherEd Utah 2020 plan calls for growing college enrollments by more than 100,000 over the next decade.
“In order to achieve 66 percent of our future workforce with some sort of post-secondary credential or degree by the year 2020, it is essential for our institutions to grow at a faster rate than the state funding allowed in the resolution,” Sederburg said in a joint press release with the Utah State Office of Education. “To pass an amendment like this would greatly limit the ability of Utah to achieve economic prosperity.”
Sponsored by Rep. Carl Wimmer, HJR37 barely cleared the House Government Operations Committee last week in the face of bipartisan opposition.
“We can all agree that we under-fund education. If we put artificial caps on these essential programs, we will never be able to fully fund them,” Rep. Douglas Sagers, R-Tooele, told Wimmer. “You’re handicapping our ability to manage the state properly.”
HJR37 calls for amending the state constitution so that expenditures cannot exceed what the state spent the year before, after making adjustments for inflation and population growth. Spending beyond this limit would require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature and the governor’s approval. It would also divert surplus revenues to a reserve fund.
The resolution is awaiting action in the House Rules Committee. If passed, it would still require voter approval to become law.
To read the rest of this article in the Salt Lake Tribune, click here.Posted by: psilberman