. House Speaker Becky Lockhart’s $200 million education technology initiative does not compute, according to Gov. Gary Herbert and Senate leaders.
Herbert said Wednesday that Lockhart’s push to put a digital device in every student’s hand "kind of came out of left field," and he isn’t sure how Lockhart plans to pay for the program.
"At the end of the day there is only so many ways you can slice the pie and there is finite numbers of dollars. And the $300 million, if that became a reality, it’s clearly going to have to be taken from someplace else," Herbert said during his monthly KUED news conference. "I don’t think the math works out. It’s going to have to be a much more limited approach."
Herbert’s uncertainty was echoed by Senate leaders Wednesday.
"We are concerned where the money is coming from," said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. "There’s talk about the money coming out of transportation and we’re already in a hole in transportation."
He said Senate Republicans believe funding the new students entering schools and increasing per-pupil spending are the top priorities. He said technology is a good tool, but a skilled, trained teacher is the most important key to student success.
"It really highlights some of the balancing act," Niederhauser said. "If we spend more money here, we’re going to be taking it from somebody else."
Lockhart said she has been working with Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, on the technology proposal for months, although she didn’t meet with senators until early in the session. She has said she believes the money is available, but lawmakers have to make education technology a priority.
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