Legislative Leadership and Governor Agree to Special Session

Utah State Capitol 06Monday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Speaker of the House Greg Hughes announced an agreement to convene a special session to address education funding items which were vetoed after the 2016 General Session.

The proposed special session would restore funding to each of the initiatives included in Senate Bill 2, Item 6, for their original intended purposes. Those initiatives include:

  • $1.5 million ongoing Education Funding plus intent for an additional $500,000 TANF for UPSTART, an early education initiative targeted toward individualized reading, mathematics and science curriculum.  

  • $275,000 one-time Education Funding for ProStart, a culinary arts program that provides career training and certifications for high school students.  

  • $500,000 ongoing Education Funding for Elementary Reading Assessment Tools, a statewide assessment tool used to enhance the evaluation of early education programs.

  • $3 million one-time Education Funding for K-3 Early Intervention, a program which addresses early reading through the use of interactive reading software.  

  • $500,000 one-time Education Funding for IT Academy, a program that provides opportunities for high school students to obtain basic to advanced certifications in software and network administration, which helps them gain employment after high school.

The Governor’s Office and legislature will continue to monitor these programs and their funding mechanisms. This will include visits to participating schools and discussions with participants to better understand how they are being implemented. Both branches will evaluate whether adjustments need to be made in the future to maximize the effectiveness of these programs.

The special session will be called in conjunction with the legislature’s regularly scheduled interim meetings in May which will better accommodate schedules and save taxpayer funds.  The cost savings to the state will be approximately $40,000.

On Monday, Gov. Herbert said, “I appreciate the Legislature’s willingness to engage in a collaborative path forward on this line item. I am supportive of the review process in place for both the non-lapsing account balances and the Pro-Start program, and given those assurances I will call a special session of the legislature to re-institute funding for the programs in question.”

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said, “Our constitutional process works well, and each branch has an irreplaceable role. This is important education funding and the legislative will seems to exist to override the recent veto. However, in discussions with the governor we found that a special session can accomplish the same work in a more collaborative fashion, with less disruption, and less expense to the taxpayers. Most of my colleagues feel this is a better way.”

Speaker of the House Greg Hughes said, “While the House has the support for a veto override session, it has always been our top priority to restore the funding for these programs and that can be accomplished when we come together for our interim meetings in May.”

The veto override poll in the House of Representatives and Senate will be temporarily suspended, pending the issuance of a call to special session.