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Legislators Battle Over Salt Palace Expansion Funds

Legislators Battle Over Salt Palace Expansion Funds

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Richard Piatt reportingThere is still some unfinished business at the state capitol today: Day Two of a Legislative Special Session.

Both the House and the Senate passed a bill that takes on the Federal No Child left Behind education standards yesterday. Today, it is Salt Lake City in the hot seat.

It has to do with the expansion of the Salt Palace. Salt Lake City wants the State to chip in money to build it. But the Legislature is far from open to the idea.

Salt Lake City is looking for relief, because its taxpayers are set up to pay 2-million dollars a year for 20 years.

Dave Buhler/Salt Lake City Council: "We would have a hard time with that kind of cut in our budget. It could lead to a property tax increase, which none of us want to do, and it could put the whole salt palace project in jeopardy."

But not all Legislators are enthused about the state chipping in with about 4-million dollars to help out. Bad feelings toward Salt lake City's mayor could be a part in that. A few legislators also feel their communities could use the money, too.

Because the deal stalled yesterday, the Governor is pressuring lawmakers this morning to get the deal done, since the convention center expansion is a state economic development tool, too.

Today's rancor comes after the Legislature thumbed its nose at the Federal Government, yesterday.

An anti-No child Left Behind Bill passed overwhelmingly, sending a message about state control.

Rep., Margaret Dayton/(R) Orem: "I don't know anyone in the education community who doesn't think our schools should be accountable. The question is, to whom should they be accountable?"

But there are concerns about achievement levels of minority students. Also, there is a risk that 76-million federal education dollars a year might be lost in this Federalism fight.

The state's public education superintendent isn't worried.

Patti Harrington/Utah Superintendent of Public Instruction: "For example when parents get a report on their children and their schools, the UPASS report will be first, down in the corner will be a box for no child left behind. We'll remain compliant; therefore we won't loose the money. "

Today, the Legislature will also take on a funding question for a Veterans retirement home north of Ogden, and a drug treatment program for first time criminals. But most of the time today will probably be devoted to the Salt Palace issue.

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