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Herbert, Corroon debate over education at UVU

Herbert, Corroon debate over education at UVU

By Brock Vergakis, AP Writer | Posted - Oct. 6, 2010 at 7:03 p.m.



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OREM, Utah (AP) -- For the first time in weeks, the focus of the gubernatorial campaign shifted away from campaign finance and toward education on Wednesday as Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon squared off for their fourth debate.

The two met at Utah Valley University in front of more than 100 students in a debate sponsored by the Utah Student Association, with representatives from different colleges in the states asking questions.

Chief among their questions were concerns over rising tuition and access to quality education.


"We shouldn't put the burden of balancing the budget on the backs of our students. We shouldn't burden our young people anymore than they have to be burdened to get a college education," Corroon said.

Corroon suggested one way to tackle the issue is to freeze tuition for students entering colleges and universities so they'll know how much their costs will be for the next four years.

"We shouldn't put the burden of balancing the budget on the backs of our students. We shouldn't burden our young people anymore than they have to be burdened to get a college education," Corroon said.

Capping tuition was an idea Herbert dismissed.

"I think that's a bad idea. If you cap revenues but you can't cap expenses, you have problems. It's just bad economics," said Herbert, a Republican.

Rather than capping tuition to make college more affordable, Herbert suggested private donors play a more prominent role helping students.

"The private sector needs to step up and help out. Those who have gone through the system and had some success can give money back and help create scholarships," he said.

One thing the pair did agree on is that neither wants to abolish the Utah State Board of Regents, which oversees the state's public colleges and universities. Both also said it wasn't necessary to raise taxes to pay for education.

Herbert and Corroon are vying to fill the remainder of former Gov. Jon Huntsman's term, which expires in 2012. Huntsman resigned in August 2009 to become U.S. ambassador to China. Herbert had been serving as Huntsman's lieutenant governor and helped take some of the credit on Wednesday for increasing public education funding while Huntsman was in office, saying it happened on his watch.


"The private sector needs to step up and help out. Those who have gone through the system and had some success can give money back and help create scholarships," Herbert said.

It's unclear how much of a role Herbert played in increasing education funding.

The lieutenant governor is responsible for administering elections. Under state law, all revenue from income tax is dedicated toward education funding. Unless there are tax cuts, which occurred during the Huntsman administration, education spending automatically increases with income tax revenue increases.

Although Wednesday's debate focused heavily on education, questions about campaign finance reform were still on students' minds. Corroon's campaign has been criticizing Herbert for weeks for taking large campaign contributions from state contractors.

Utah is one of a few states that places no limits on who can donate to a campaign or how large or frequent those contributions can be. Herbert opposes campaign contribution limits, while Corroon does not.

Herbert reiterated his position that quickly disclosing who contributes to a campaign is a better solution than a ban, although he hasn't said he'd support legislation requiring it. He sees nothing wrong with Utah's current system of campaign finance laws.

"There's probably nothing to clean up," he said.

Corroon said a system that allows for unlimited contributions is inviting corruption.

"We should not have a system where a contractor can come into the governor's office, request and have a meeting while in their middle of trying to get a government contract, give a big donation and then receive a contract. That system doesn't work," Corroon said.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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