Congressional candidate Gunn McKay questioned on Friday the commitment to education of his opponent, Rep. Jim Hansen, and pledged to work for more - not less - federal funding for schools.
Hansen's campaign manager, Peter Jenks, responded, "Gunn gets an `F' on the facts and an `A' in reading the National Education Association's script." He also called the NEA, a teachers union, "a very left-wing, liberal organization that promotes federal takeover of education."McKay, in a press conference at Clearfield High School, said Hansen has voted against educational programs and professed the belief that the federal government should not have a role in funding or supporting local schools.
"The federal government does have a responsibility for education in this state," McKay said. "The government controls about 70 percent of the taxable land in this district and Utah deserves our fair share."
That land would otherwise be on the property tax rolls and generating revenue, McKay said, proposing that the federal government be required to pay the equivalent amount of property tax to offset the difference.
Currently, he said, the only revenue states receive from federal land is 37.5 percent of any mineral revenue the land produces.
McKay said a tax increase would not be necessary to pay for the funding, that by cutting waste in the national defense budget and other areas, the money could be found.
"Not enough people realize that money spent on education is an investment in the future," said McKay. "Education pays. The amount of funds spent on education in a child's development years far outweighs the taxpayers' funds spent on drug rehabilitation and yearly prison expenses."
Jenks said all McKay did at his press conference was essentially read a boilerplate statement prepared by the NEA and the Democratic National Committee.
He said the NEA "pulls McKay's strings," noting that the union gave him $10,000 for his 1986 campaign and has given him $5,000 so far this year.
Jenks said Hansen has a pro-education record and said Hansen's votes reflect mainstream thinking in Utah. He complained that the votes that McKay attacked him for were all budget votes, and "he knows that other votes could have been cast the same day to fund the same programs for less."
Besides questioning Hansen's rec-ord on education, McKay vowed to do whatever possible to bolster education - which he said is the key to the state's future through economic development.
"With respect for higher education, a high-tech society survives on quality education at the university level as well as our vocational institutions," said McKay.
"This state has already developed a number of solid businesses which are offshoots from our universities, such as those at Research Park at the University of Utah.
"These are safe, clean, high-paying jobs. But we need more. By cutting back college loans, grants to the colleges, and math and science research, Utah could lose its high-tech, defense-related industry and its best professors," McKay warned.
McKay said if elected, he will assign a staff member to research and obtain grants for Utah's institutions.