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Questions abound about how to pay for Speaker’s massive education push

$200M-$300M push by Lockhart would require big cuts in other state programs.

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In a statement Friday, the governor’s office touted his own record on expanding digital education.

"The governor has been a strong proponent of enhancing the technology available to teachers and students since he convened his Education Excellence Commission over four years ago," his office said. "The governor appreciates the support of legislative leadership for this important initiative. He looks forward to working with the Senate and House to find the right balance for funding competing priorities with limited taxpayer dollars."

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Lockhart said she plans to publicly release her education plan by the end of next week, although The Tribune first reported the broad contours of it Thursday. She said she expects it to be less than $300 million, but the price tag will be significant.

"We’ve always felt and always demonstrated that education is our No. 1 priority and this will give us an opportunity to show that," she said.

House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said if the Legislature wants to invest in something "transformational" for education, it’s going to require a serious look at the budget.

And Hughes said it is wrong for critics to suggest that Lockhart is looking to bolster her legacy before she leaves the Legislature at the end of the year, or that she is burnishing her credentials for a potential run for the governor’s office — even a possible challenge to Herbert — in 2016.

"Is it any surprise that someone who has spent 16 years in service and the last four as speaker wants to have a legacy of something that is transformational?" he said. "I know they want to point to ulterior motives, but I think that’s unfair."


Twitter: @RobertGehrke

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