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Under the Dome Archive for the Week of January 11, 2010

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 January 12, 2010

UEA Legislative Team Members Meet With Gov. Herbert

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he is tired of the acrimony that often accompanies discussions about public education and has invited education community members, including the Utah Education Association, to sit at the table with him and talk about the issues. That was extremely good news for the UEA Legislative Team, who recently met with the governor to talk about upcoming legislative and retirement issues.

The governor is set to convene a 20-member Educational Excellence Committee, whose task will be to prepare recommendations aimed at the improvement of K-16 education in the state. In his first days as governor, Herbert identified public education as one of his top priorities. He told the UEA Legislative Team that he is “committed to getting something done.”  “The UEA is honored to be at the table and we hope we can be a resource to Governor Herbert as he moves forward,” said UEA Executive Director Mark Mickelsen. Joining Mickelsen in the meeting were UEA President Kim Campbell, UEA Government Relations Director Kory Holdaway, UEA Educational Excellence Director Sara Jones, and UEA Legislative Specialist and former UEA Executive Director Susan Kuziak.

The UEA praised the governor for funding public employee retirement benefits as a part of his 2010-11 budget proposal. Several proposed legislative bills – aimed at cutting retirement benefits for educators and public employees – have drawn criticism from the UEA and other employee associations. Herbert said he is aware that educators have already endured cuts in salary and benefits during the past year. Regarding retirement, he said he doesn’t want change “for the sake of change.”  He also said he wants to make sure Utah teachers are paid at market rates and noted that the previous administration had already made some strides in achieving that goal.