(KCPW News) Organizers of a political action committee called Education First say last week’s primary election results in the Utah Legislature are a good sign for public and higher education in Utah. Nolan Karras, a member of the State Board of Regents and former Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, is co-chair of the PAC, which was organized in late 2011.
“We have felt like there has been some anti-public education, if you will, atmosphere at the legislature. We think that’s moderating and I think there’s a lot of good people up there that we can now have a vigorous debate with,” he says.
Karras says the PAC doesn’t have a “litmus test” that candidates have to pass, but wants to help meet the governor’s goal of having two-thirds of Utah adults obtain a college degree or certificate by 2020.
He says with a few exceptions, the PAC focused primarily on open seats this election cycle, rather than trying to oust incumbents from the legislature.
“We didn’t want to find ourselves making things worse at the legislature. We’re looking to try and make headway by having a trusting debate, and we felt like some of that’s been lacking, and so we like the idea that we can get these mainstream conservatives who see education as a priority to move the state forward,” he says.
Education First says it gave candidates $23,500 during the primary election season.