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Gov. Gary Herbert on Tuesday signed into law sweeping reforms of the state's criminal justice system, focused on shortening some drug sentences, rehabilitating convicts and reducing the rate at which offenders end up back behind bars.

The governor also signed an education budget bill that increases funding for public and higher education by more than $425 million, as well as 84 other pieces of legislation.

HB348 was the product of a commission created in 2014, with the help of the Pew Charitable Trusts, designed to take a top-to-bottom look at the way the state's prison system works — and where it doesn't work.

In the last decade, Utah's prison population had grown by 22 percent and was projected to grow by 37 percent over the coming two decades, requiring 2,700 new prison beds. Forty-six percent of offenders ended up back behind bars within three years of their release.

The package of reforms just signed into law reduces the sentence for some drug crimes and invests money in drug treatment and rehabilitation. It also seeks to offer more support to inmates leaving the prison system to stem the recidivism rate.

The changes are expected to reduce the growth in the prison population by 95 percent.

"Utahns understand our prison gates must be a permanent exit from the system, not just a revolving door," Herbert said. "We have taken significant steps to rebuild lives with a smarter, more efficient criminal justice system while enhancing public safety."

Also Tuesday, Herbert signed HB2, which includes the new spending on public education. The bill includes a 4 percent increase in per-pupil spending, pays to educate the roughly 8,000 new students expected to enroll in classes in the fall, and funds a series of new targeted programs.

Combined with a $76 million property tax increase intended to help rural schools lagging in education funding, the state is spending a total of $510 million in new money on education.

"Education has always been and will continue to be my top budget priority," Herbert said. "Our young population is one of our biggest competitive advantages but we need an educated workforce to remain among the top performing economies in the nation."

Another education bill, SB235, was signed today. Sponsored by Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, the measure requires school districts to hire "school turnaround" experts to take over low-performing schools and train faculty and administrators. The program will cost $7 million per year.

The governor also signed a bill that would limit his administration's ability to reduce air pollution through seasonal bans on wood-burning stoves. The governor had earlier hinted that he would consider vetoing the bill.

The Utah Clean Air Partnership has said that a single fireplace can emit as much particulate pollution as 90 sport utility vehicles. The governor's Division of Air Quality had considered banning wood stoves in nonattainment areas during inversion months, but many in the public and the Legislature saw the ban as overreaching and the proposal met a backlash.

Vehicle owners who wish to convert their car to a clean-burning fuel vehicle could get a grant of up to $2,500, under HB15, which the governor also signed Tuesday.

The governor has now signed 479 of the 495 pieces of legislation passed by the Legislature that require his action. He has until Wednesday to sign or veto the remaining legislation.

Twitter: @RobertGehrke