Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. kicked off the legislative session in Utah last week by urging lawmakers to get back to basics. First on the governor’s list: teacher compensation.
“[W]e must provide our teachers with a decent and competitive compensation package—one that includes not only an increase in salary, but also targeted financial incentives,” the Republican said in his speech to legislators from both chambers at Salt Lake Air Force Base on Jan. 16, the day after the start of Utah’s 45-day legislative season. “I refuse to stand by idly as we lose good educators to other states in our region.”
Included in his budget recommendations for fiscal 2008 is $25 million in new appropriations to pay for one-time, $1,000 bonuses for every teacher in the state. According to a survey of 2004-05 teacher salaries by the National Education Association, Utah ranked 38th in the nation, tied with Nebraska, in teacher pay, at an average of $39,456.
In addition, the governor’s budget would allocate nearly $22 million to begin funding the state’s Professional Excellence, or ProExcel, program, which would include teacher mentoring and incentive pay, among other initiatives.
Gov. Huntsman also used the occasion of the speech to introduce a nearly $29 million proposal to limit to 20 students the classroom sizes in grades K-3, and a $7.5 million proposal to begin phasing in voluntary full-day kindergarten across the state. His roughly $3 billion K-12 education budget represents a 15 percent increase over fiscal 2007 appropriations.
Read a complete transcript of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s 2007 State of the State address. Posted by Utah’s Office of the Governor.
A version of this article appeared in the January 24, 2007 edition of Education Week