On March 30th Governor Herbert completed his action on the 453 bills passed during the 2016 Legislative Session. Of those 453, Governor Herbert vetoed several bills and budget line items, and one bill passed without the Governor’s signature. Gov. Herbert’s comments on his website regarding the vetoes are informative and he also provides a more in-depth explanation of each veto in this series of letters.
The vetoes of the 3 full bills and 7 line items within 3 separate appropriations bills include:
1. HB 258, Solid Waste Amendments
2. SB 87, Administrative Rulemaking Act Modifications
3. HB 377, Grandparent Rights Amendments
4. Parts of HB 2, New Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations Act (specifically item 111)
5. Parts of HB 3, Appropriations Adjustments (specifically items 31, 47, 52, 125, and 149)
6. Parts of SB 2, Public Education Budget Amendments (specifically item 6)
The following information provides an analysis of the specific items included in the veto associated with SB 2. I sit on the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee with 19 other House and Senate members. Our work this session centered around hearing expert testimony and analysis, conducting lengthy discussions, and making recommendations for the public education budget, including these recently vetoed line items. Each item below received our collective support during the session.
*Thanks to the folks at senatesite.com for their compilation of the following information.
1. A cut of $1 m ongoing Education Funding to Electronic High School.
This appropriation would have discontinued the ongoing funding for Electronic High School. The program could have continued on a limited basis for one more year funded mainly with estimated balances of $693,300. During the 2016 interim, the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee plans to conduct a study of the program.
2. An increase of $1.5 m ongoing Education Funding plus intent for an additional $0.5 m TANF for UPSTART.
This appropriation was for tuition subsidies so that the program could serve more children. UPSTART is designed to give Utah four-year-olds an individualized reading, mathematics, and science curriculum with a focus on reading using home-based educational technology. Currently, UPSTART is comprised of three software programs: Rusty and Rosy Learn with Me (reading, math, and science), the Waterford Assessments of Core Skills (testing; assesses children who do not know how to read), and Camp Consonant (reading). Children participate in the program the year before they attend kindergarten. Authorization for the $0.5 m TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families, a federal assistance program) portion was also provided in the DWS budget, so it is possible that that portion could continue. Estimates suggest the program will end FY 2016 with a nonlapsing balance of approximately $2.4 million. Board staff are reviewing the expenditure patterns of the program to determine if all balances will be used by the end of the contract in FY 2019.
3. An increase of 275,000 1x Education Funding for ProStart.
This appropriation request was titled ProStart – Teen Chef Masters, but included additional funding for the culinary arts program to provide training and certification for high school students. In the materials detailing this request, ProStart representatives requested $400,000 ongoing, which includes $225,000 for teacher supplies such as equipment and food for competition; $80,000 in administrative costs; $40,000 for student training, career fairs, competitions, and events; $35,000 for teacher training, scholarships, and professional development; and $20,000 for classroom resources. A total of $275,000 was appropriated by the Legislature without designation to which of the original intended uses identified above would receive the funding. The original request for appropriation for this item is $664,000 ongoing.
4. An increase of $500,000 ongoing Education Funding for Elementary Reading Assessment Tools.
This appropriation was for a statewide tool to administer the DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) early literacy assessment. Currently, there are two providers who provide services to enhance usability of DIBELS data, e.g.: mechanized data collection, accessible data that teachers can drill down into as soon as the assessment is complete, and identification of relative strengths and weaknesses by teachers and administrators. This funding would have enabled all local education agencies in the state access to these types of tools. The funding was intended to provide access to either program by every school district and charter school in the state. The program is estimated to have approximately $1.4 m in nonlapsing balances at the end of FY 2016. With this level of funding, they could still allow universal access of LEAs and draw down the balances over time.
5. An increase of $3 m 1x Education Funding for K-3 Early Intervention.
This appropriation was to purchase statewide software contract licenses to address early reading learning for a second year. The funding for software licenses was first provided in FY 2016 with a one-time appropriation of $3.0 million. There are currently five software programs being used for early reading intervention: i-Ready, Imagine Learning, lstation, SuccessMaker, and Waterford ERP. Schools can choose the vendor with whom they want to work. The majority of schools use Imagine Learning which served about 38 percent of the students in the early intervention program in the 2014-2015 school year. The second most used program was i-Ready serving about 28 percent of enrolled students and Waterford served the lowest number of students at about 9 percent of licenses for last school year. The lstation program served 13.6 percent of students and SuccessMaker served 11.8 percent of students. We estimate that there will be no balances remaining in this program at the end of FY 2016. There is an ongoing base of $4.6 million for the program, but this funding pays for ongoing allocations to LEAs to support technology programs and not the license portion.
6. An increase of $500,000 1x Education Funding for IT Academy.
This appropriation was for software licenses and certification testing. This is a current program that has been funded with one-time money for the past three years. The main purpose is to provide opportunities for high school students to obtain basic to advanced certifications in software and network administration using MS Office products. The program does not have nonlapsing balances and without funding will discontinue in FY 2017. The program is created in statute, 53A-13-111.
I will be looking more deeply into these line items in SB 2, engaging in further discussions with the Governor’s staff, and will be posting my veto override decision within the next week. If you have any feedback on the vetoed bills or budget line items, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!