Utah voters show political concerns in debate questions, poll results

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Core issues are crucial to voters in the race for Utah's next governor. At one of the Gary Herbert-Peter Corroon debates Thursday, a group of students held the candidates' feet to the fire on issues that also match a Utah Priorities poll for KSL and the Deseret News.

Resources for 3rd grade-level reading?

Strongly Agree55%
Strongly Disagree2%
Don't Know1%
KSL TV/Deseret News/Dan Jones

The audience of students that watched the in-studio KUED governor's debate in person was in the mood for real answers. The candidates' statements on the economy, education and immigration mattered a lot.

"The debate itself informed me about a lot of stuff I didn't know about: incentives for education and how we're going to pay for it, creating jobs and how we're going to go about it," said political science student Alexandra Tomessetti.

Jesse Taylor, also a political science student, said, "In my opinion, I'm still undecided; and I'm contemplating the issues themselves look at how they (the candidates) reacted to them, research each and then decide."

When it comes to education, funding is a big issue. Both Herbert and Corroon agree the system needs more cash, but Corroon has the governor on the defensive when he says Herbert hasn't done enough to get the job done.

"Our budget was cut again," Corroon said. "That is not holding education harmless, that's hurting our education system."

"On my watch we will make sure education is a high priority; and we're not just talking about it, we've done it," Herbert countered.

Amend Constitution for Citizenship?

Strongly Agree32%
Strongly Disagree22%
Don't Know2%
KSL TV/Deseret News/Dan Jones

A strong response came from the poll when it comes to reading: More than 80 percent want to make sure third-grade students pass a reading test, and that eighth-graders pass algebra and biology tests.

The candidates differ on immigration, which is also a priority according to the poll. The governor is open to a discussion on a constitutional amendment on birthright citizenship; his challenger says no way.

"The Constitution is meant to be amended, so that's nothing new; and it certainly ought to be a healthy debate," Herbert said.

"We shouldn't change the Constitution of the United States. We should just fix the problem at hand," Corroon said.

Of the voters who participated in our poll, 50 percent said they believe the Constitution should be amended to prevent children of illegal immigrants from automatically becoming U.S. citizens. Only 34 percent said no change should be made.

Voters are also keen on cutting government spending on economic development and jobs.

You can watch KUED's debate on television next Monday night (Sept. 27) at 8 p.m.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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