Tomorrow, the Utah legislature will convene a special session for the purpose of voting on whether to take $101 million from the federal government. Let’s be clear. They will take the money. But before they do, we’ll hear more talk about how the money is bad. More talk about overreach by the federal government. More about the usurpation of states’ rights. But they will take it.
Why? Because the federal government has “barbed” the deal. If the state decides NOT to take the money, the federal government can – and undoubtedly will – give the money directly to individual school districts. The legislature can have some control over where the money goes or they can have no control. The legislature is also very tightly bound by where they can spend the money. It can’t go for brick and mortar – it must go for personnel. So, for those states who couldn’t – or wouldn’t – balance their budget, it’s a reward for bad behavior. A bailout for irresponsibility. It punishes those responsible states who have balanced their budgets by giving them one-time money for on-going needs. They’ll also take it because more legislators want it than oppose it.
So – the special session will convene, the speeches in opposition will be given, enough people will vote no to prove their point – and the majority will vote to take the money. The biggest drawback? The lashing that will come from the far right for every legislator not “pure” enough to vote no.