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Utah Teachers’ Union Offers Endorsement to Lt. Governor Following Veto of Special Ed Bill

The biggest teachers’ union in Utah has offered its endorsement of incumbent Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox after his administration vetoed a special education bill that the union opposed.

The bill in question was House Bill 332, introduced by state representative Mike Schultz (R-Utah). The main purpose of the bill was to provide greater funding to special needs programs across the state, and sought to do so by creating a new individual/corporate tax credit that would provide the funding for a new scholarship program for such students. This not only would provide more assistance for the roughly 80,000 students in the state classified as special needs, but would do so from a new source of revenue rather than diverting any more funds from the currently existing education budget.

However, after the bill passed both the Utah House and Senate, it was vetoed by Governor Gary Herbert (R-Utah), with the support of Cox, his lieutenant governor. Herbert, who has chosen not to run for re-election in 2020, has already offered his endorsement of Cox, who is facing three other Republicans in the primary, including former governor, 2012 presidential candidate, and former ambassador to China and Russia, Jon Huntsman Jr.

Following the Herbert/Cox administration’s vetoing of the bill, Cox was officially endorsed by the Utah Education Association (UEA), which had vehemently opposed the special needs bill. The bill was similarly opposed by other major education groups and teachers’ unions in the state, including the Utah State School Board, the Utah School Boards Association, the Utah School Superintendents Association, and Utah PTA. Cox’s campaign also subsequently received a donation of $75,000 from the NEA following the veto.

Despite the governor’s veto, Representative Schultz and his cosponsor, State Senator Lincoln Fillmore (R-Utah), brought the bill back for another vote in the upcoming special session of the Utah legislature that included “a number of changes,” and effectively did override Herbert’s veto.