clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

In our opinion: Herbert can accomplish much in education this term

FILE - Utah Gov. Gary Herbert addresses the media before speaking during the Utah Global Forum at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016.
FILE - Utah Gov. Gary Herbert addresses the media before speaking during the Utah Global Forum at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016.
Nick Wagner, Nick Wagner

As Gov. Gary Herbert begins his third term as governor of the Beehive State, he enjoys numerous auspicious economic indicators. Virtually every forecast is bullish for the next year with a better than average long-term picture.

Meanwhile, there is still much work that remains to be done in the state, especially in the area of education. The governor has a remarkable opportunity to make significant strides in this arena. Despite favorable tailwinds, there is still concern that Utah may not be able to produce enough skilled workers to meet its own worker demand over the coming years. While higher education is well-funded in the state, in some regards K-12 has been neglected by comparison. Fortunately, Herbert has already established education and infrastructure as top priorities for his administration.

Now is the time to take concrete steps to improving Utah’s K-12 educational offerings.

Until recently, Utah opposed nearly every form of tax increase, but earlier this month voters overwhelmingly approved a whopping $630 million in school bonds for the Jordan and Alpine school districts. This stands in stark contrast to the significant defeat of a bond referendum in the Jordan District just a few years ago. This time around school administrators and community leaders sharpened their pencils and did the necessary homework to make a more economically attractive and compelling case for increased investment.

The governor may look to do the same on a statewide basis.

There appears to be an appetite for judicious spending increases with regard to education and other areas. Indeed, in the last legislative session, Utah approved a hike in gas taxes to help pay for improved transportation infrastructure across the state. A special session of the Legislature was even convened to resolve concerns about how these increased funds should best be allocated to different jurisdictions. These tax increases would be notable even in a blue state that might be struggling to balance its state budget, but they are all the more remarkable in Utah where Republicans hold a supermajority of elected seats across the state.

Finding increased funding for improving K-12 resonates well with the governor’s stated commitment to make education one of the top priorities for his administration over the coming years. Likewise, increased transportation funding will make Utah more attractive to prominent national employers, potentially resulting in both increasing new high-quality jobs and improving the air quality and quality of life in the state.

We congratulate Gov. Herbert on his re-election to the highest office in the state and hope that he will use these next four years to increase Utah’s achievement in education as the state continues its successful record of economic attainment.