(KCPW News) House Speaker Becky Lockhart has withdrawn her signature one-to-one initiative to inundate Utah classrooms with laptops and tablet computers.
The bill died over the weekend during a budget dispute between the House and Senate. Lockhart was asking for $200 million in the first year of the program, but the Senate initially offered only $26 million. Furthermore, Governor Gary Herbert indicated that he would veto the Public Education Modernization Act if its cost exceeded $30 million.
With Lockhart dissatisfied with the small portion of the budget being offered, she voluntarily withdrew her proposal, and the Senate cut their proposed funding accordingly.
At a press conference on Monday, Lockhart explained why her bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Gibson in the House, had to be sacrificed.
“We’ve been working with the Senate on the potential funding mechanism for the one-to-one initiative for the past week. The House continued to make proposals reducing the amount that we were asking for,” Lockhart said.
“It finally became apparent that the House was trying to make history, and the Senate was trying to make a deal.”
The “deal” Lockhart is referring to was a number of potential arrangements Senate Republicans offered up to the House, such as an agreement to endorse the Senate’s Medicaid expansion plan, or increases in gas or property taxes. But ultimately, Lockhart and her colleagues in the House were unimpressed.
“In the end, what they were offering was, frankly, change out of the couch cushions,” she said, adding, “I’ve long said there’s only one thing worse than not doing it, and that’s doing it wrong or doing it with not enough to do it right.”
As of Monday, Senate and House Republicans were on the verge of agreeing upon a budget for the next fiscal year. Lockhart said she only expects minor changes to the budget at this point as the House vets specific elements.