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Candidates For Governor Spar On Medicaid Expansion, Education In 2nd Debate

John Zsiray - Associated Press
Governor Gary Herbert and Democrat Mike Weinholtz meet in a debate at Utah State University in Logan.

Utah Republican Governor Gary Herbert and Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz faced off Monday night in the 2nd of two scheduled debates before the November election.

The candidates spent a large chunk of the hour responding to questions about Medicaid expansion.

Weinholtz said expanding Medicaid would help address the mental health and addiction issues Utah faces. But he said Herbert failed to expand Medicaid to 120,000 Utahns who need it.

“Not only was the failure to expand Medicaid morally bankrupt,” Weinholtz said. “It was fiscally irresponsible because you as Utahns have already paid the taxes for this.”

Utah lawmakers approved legislation last year that will expand coverage to roughly 10,000 people. While Herbert signed the bill, he’d hoped to pass a plan called Healthy Utah that would have covered thousands more. 

“You’re making my argument Mike,” Herbert said. “That’s what I argued with the Legislature on Healthy Utah. Maybe you should take a hand at being a legislator and we can get it past the House.”

Herbert took credit for the state’s strong economy, rising incomes and low unemployment rate. Weinholtz argued Herbert had not prioritized education. The Governor said his administration has only replenished the education budget after years of cutbacks. The Utah Education Association has endorsed Herbert.

The debate was organized by the Utah Debate Commission. It took place in Logan at Utah State University. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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