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Herbert, Weinholtz Talk Education In Hinckley Forum

Whittney Evans

Governor Gary Herbert and Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz participated in a candidate forum Tuesday, organized by the Hinckley Institute of Politics. The event was not a formal debate—each candidate had about 45 minutes on stage to answer questions posed by a moderator.

Gov. Herbert defended his record of increasing education spending, pointing out that when he took office following the recession, education funding had been cut drastically.

“So when I came in, my first budget, I said ‘we’re not going to cut any more of education,’” Herbert said. “And since that time we’ve increased public education spending, that’s just K-12, by nearly $900 million. And our goal is to increase spending by a billion dollars over the next five years.”

Democrat Mike Weinholtz said it’s not enough, saying that even with the money invested during Herbert’s tenure, the state’s spending level on education is still lower than it was before the recession hit in 2008.

Weinholtz said he’d support a small tax increase to help boost education funding.

“Now I know this isn’t necessarily a popular thing for a politician to run on, but education is important enough to me, and I know to other Utahns, that this is a solution that they will support,” Weinholtz said, referring to a poll from which found that 64% of surveyed Utahns would support a less than 1% income tax hike to fund public education.

Herbert has been endorsed by the Utah Education Association.

The candidates also spoke about the fight over control of public lands. Weinholtz said it was fiscally irresponsible of Herbert to allow $14 million to be set aside for a possible lawsuit against the federal government. The Governor said he believes the state could save money and provide better management if given control of some federal land.

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