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Utah Legislature: Committee favors across-the-board cut

SALT LAKE CITY — Trying to be as equitable as possible, the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee recommended a 5 percent across-the-board budget cut for public education Thursday.

The committee was assigned to figure out how to slice $102 million from the education budget for fiscal 2011, which begins July 1.

Committee members had to decide whether to take an even percentage from the entire budget, ax particular programs or cut from funds that would hurt classrooms, such as increasing class sizes.

The only winner was the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program, which offers drama, art, speech and dance to enhance academics in schools. The committee approved $700,000 for the program. That means it would have $3.5 million for the 2010-2011 school year, the same amount it had this year.

Education programs have spent the last two weeks vying for attention before the committee, each justifying their existence and proclaiming their importance.

Science outreach programs have measurable influence on whether students retain the textbook learning they are getting in the classroom, said Seth Jarvis, director of the Clark Planetarium.

"These informal science education tools are extremely valuable to a student's overall science education," he said. "Science education happens in way more places than just in the classroom."

Lawmakers are expecting state revenue numbers to be in next week, on which final budget decisions will be made.