With Kirk Jowers bowing out of the gov race, the number of gubernatorial challengers has thinned—but those who remain are getting ready for 2010. The policy wonks of CQ Politics figure the short list likely includes senator Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, who already it seems is now sharpening a knife-like talking point to shiv Herbert with in 2010.
In a recent blog Urquhart challenged Herbert to not let the board of regents short change needy scholarship recipients by asking him to allocate $1.7 million from ‘economic stabilization’ money to shore up the New Century Scholarship programs current deficit.
The allocation would tide the recipient over until the next session when legislators could figure out how to extend the lifeline further. Otherwise Urquhart says a special session might as well be convened now. The language of the blog and his ideas aren't exactly a smack down on Hebert but his proposed solution is a clear call to action:
“We need to sit in a committee room with these students and their parents, as well as the many other worthy interests competing for the State's limited resources, and hammer out the policy in the open -- now, if Governor Herbert won't apply the bandage, or in January, if he will."
The 2010 session will be Herbert’s proving ground for re-election and he’s already made moves to cut the budget at whatever the cost, even looking to hire out some contract guns to help get the state budget back in black in 2010. That being said, could Urquhart make an issue over shortchanging scholarship students out of $1.7 million?
Hells yes he could. It’s a strong point, not only just because its an education issue, but also because it’s the kind of thing that might get the attention of some of them more moderate republicans out there (not to mention democrats) mourning Huntsman’s sudden Marco Polo act. And because the scholarships were already promised to students who graduated high school with their associate degrees, the recipients can likely be argued to be a strong asset to the coming workforce, and thus you can also even satisfy many hard-line fiscal conservatives with the proposal.Ultimately the only way Herbert can sidestep it is to do just as Urquhart asks. Win-win for Urquhart: either he gets a point to stick Herbert with where it hurts in 2010 or he gets the credit for being the catalyst to helping out some 2,000 needy scholarship students. Pure. Genius.