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SALT LAKE CITY -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Corroon is calling on Utah's current governor to hold a special legislative session before the election. He says millions of dollars in education funding are at stake.
With close to three weeks until Election Day, no issue is off limits. At a press conference Sunday, Corroon said he feels Gov. Gary Herbert is stalling, even playing a "political game" with the education of Utah's children.
This is about leadership. This is about who is really focusing on education and whether education really is important to our governor.
Corroon was joined by his running mate, Republican Rep. Sheryl Allen. Both called on Herbert to hold a special session in order to accept $101 million in funding from the federal government. It's money that's already been approved and appropriated by Congress to go to state education.
But because Herbert has not called a session, Utah has yet to receive any of that money.
"This is about leadership. This is about who is really focusing on education and whether education really is important to our governor," Corroon said.
Allen says waiting to accept the money means hurting Utah students, teachers and schools. "The sooner we can get them the personnel, the trained personnel to help them with their education program, the better off they are," she said. "That's the name of the game."
This is not a matter of politics, it's a matter of policy and doing what's right for education and for Utah's schoolchildren. Politics is not going to drive this.
Corroon and Allen believe Herbert does not want to hold a session before the election for political reasons. They say some staunch Republicans are nervous about taking federal dollars -- even though at the end of the day, the state's school system needs it.
Herbert's camp says that's absolutely false. Campaign spokesman Don Olsen said, "That's silly. That's just a lame attempt at political gamesmanship. The money is coming. The special session will be held."
The governor is waiting to hold the session until after the Nov. 2 election because that's when the budget numbers come in.
Olsen said, "This is not a matter of politics, it's a matter of policy and doing what's right for education and for Utah's schoolchildren. Politics is not going to drive this."
Olsen says the governor's office has already laid the groundwork for a special session. Just last week they met with the Utah Education Association and several lawmakers to discuss the session.
Olsen says it's the Corroon campaign that's playing politics.
"I say that their calling a news conference on a Sunday afternoon is absolutely political on their part," he said. "They know how the process works."