Utahns heavily support GOP Gov. Gary Herbert’s request to put an extra $500 million into public education next year, a new UtahPolicy poll shows.

Several weeks ago, before updated state revenue estimates showed another $101 million coming into the state this budget year and next, Senate budget chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, told UtahPolicy he doubted his body would take around $95 million from the state’s Transportation Fund and transfer it to public education spending for fiscal 2015-2016 – as Herbert desires.

Now that there is an extra $101 million it is more likely that Herbert and education advocates can see that half-a-billion dollars in public education next year.

Although that is certainly not guaranteed.

In a survey taken last month, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that 68 percent of Utahns “strongly” or “somewhat” support Herbert’s $500 million boost in education funding.

 

The Utah House and Senate are overwhelmingly Republican, so it matters what Utah GOP rank-and-file want.

Jones found that 67 percent of Republicans support the $500 million, 84 percent of Democrats want it and 62 percent of political independents support the extra money for K-12 schools.

There is no doubt that Utah public education has been underfunded in recent years – although the GOP legislative majority did what it could to keep budget cuts from public education during the recent Great Depression.

Jones found that 59 percent of those who graduated from high school want the extra money, 69 percent of those who have a college degree support it, while 70 percent of those who have some kind of college graduate schooling or degree support the half-billion-dollars.

The poll was taken Jan. 2-9 of 606 Utahns with a margin of effort of plus or minus 3.98 percent.