No money for House Speaker Becky Lockhart's education technology plan in budget
House leaders had already dropped another of the speaker's proposals this session, a $35 million alternative to Medicaid expansion that would use state dollars to provide limited coverage to only the neediest Utahns.
The House GOP caucus, which heard details of the budget deal in a closed meeting, did not take a position on the budget. But Lockhart said she expected it to be approved by the House.
The budget passed by the Executive Appropriations Committee on Monday includes more than $127 million for a 2.5 percent increase in the state's funding mechanism for schools and enrollment growth, both in the governor's budget.
House Budget Chairman Mel Brown, R-Coalville, said higher education "made out like a bandit," getting more than $75 million, including $50 million intended to help rapidly growing campuses such as Utah Valley University.
Also in the budget is $36 million for an expansion of the state prison in Gunnison requested by Herbert, as well as $4 million to pay for the House investigation into former Attorney General John Swallow.
Plus there's $500,000 for the state's defense of Amendment 3, the state's voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, through the 10th Circuit of Appeals.
The new spending is on top of the base budgets approved earlier in the session. The House and the Senate each have $3 million left to spend, split between one-time surplus funds and ongoing revenues.
Senate Budget Chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said there was little controversy in the budget negotiations once the speaker's initiative was no longer on the table.
"Our approach was, if you really want to do it, there are ways," Hillyard said of the education technology initiative. "She really didn't want to do it that much."
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