(KCPW News) The Utah House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that requires state prisoners to pay back a portion of their medical, dental, and higher education costs. Bill Sponsor Representative Carl Wimmer said the bill would give prisoners more job training, rather than helping them get degrees that may not help them get a job.
"Prisoners will be paying the vast majority of their higher education. They'll also have more opportunity. So not only are the taxpayers receiving tremendous benefit, but we will also be giving more opportunity to the prisoners, while they're there," Wimmer said.
But Representative Kay McIff, who voted against the bill, pointed out concerns brought forth by Salt Lake Community College. He said SLCC would lose money if vocational training is preferred over obtaining a degree. The college also contributes nearly a million dollars to the Department of Corrections each year.
"If somehow it's removed from the equation, there are two things that Corrections would lose. One is about $900,000 that is being contributed out of the Salt Lake Community College Funds, are those concerns that you have addressed with Salt Lake Community College?" McIff said.
Wimmer argued that colleges shouldn't be subsidizing education for prisoners, and he wants that money to be given back to the taxpayers. The bill now moves on to the Senate.