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SCHOOLS ARE SHEA PRIORITY

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U.S. senatorial candidate Pat Shea finds it ironic that Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is taking credit for the reworking of federal education funding formulas. "I'm pleased to see the formulas change. Why did it take 18 years?" asks Shea.

The increase "is only a fiscal drop in the bucket" for needy Utah children, said Shea. "Utah's schools rank dead last in the nation in terms of spending per student. Orrin Hatch's efforts to address this problem hardly put a dent in the real problems facing Utah school children today."Hatch got $1.9 million more under the new formulas. But Shea says the $1.9 million amounts to only 0.09 percent of Utah's total school budget and will increase per-student spending from $3,203 per year to $3,207 per year - only $4 a year per student. Across the nation, the average per-student per-year spending is $5,316.

If elected, Shea said he'd make education funding one of his top priorities. He pledged to rewrite federal funding formulas that currently leave Utah with less than 1 percent of federal education funding.

- Shea reports that Hatch has been criticized by Citizen Action, a consumer watchdog group. Citizen Action said Hatch was the No. 1 recipient of PAC money from drug companies.

Hatch has received $71,991 from phamaceutical industry PACs in the last 18 months, the group reports. Over the past 15 years, Hatch has raised nearly $1 million from health and insurance industry PACs, the group says, making Hatch one of the largest recipients of such cash.

Hatch sits on the Senate Finance Committee where government health care regulation is heard and the Labor and Human Resources where all drug bills are heard.