Education technology bill faces veto threat as Utah works to pass budget

Posted at 5:41 PM, Mar 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-06 19:41:06-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's legislative leaders were at an impasse that was endangering the entire budget process, but that may have changed because Governor Gary Herbert threatened a veto on the bill that senators said was the sticking point.

That's according to Republican leaders in the State Senate. They said they had not even had discussions with House leaders in days, largely because the House was holding the line on $200 million for a new technology initiative while Senate Republicans were sticking to their offer of $26 million for a pilot project.

"We’re not even talking about the budget," said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. "We’re hoping we can break that communication gap."

The technology initiative was announced by House Speaker Becky Lockhart in her opening remarks on the first day of the legislative aession.

The revelation that the state might not pass a budget came as a surprise, though the House co-chair of the powerful Executive Appropriations Committee, Rep. Mel Brown of Coalville, was more optimistic, suggesting the whole situation was just another form of political posturing.

"The legislature is not going to leave here without a balanced budget. We can’t constitutionally," Brown said.

The Governor took the stalemate seriously. Shortly after senators said they feared the budget might be threatened, the governor made it clear he would veto anything more than what the Senate offered for the technology pilot.

FOX 13 News requested comment from House Speaker Becky Lockhart, but she was not available.