Gov. Mike Leavitt on Wednesday emphasized that education should not be the target of the Legislature's budget cuts.
"I would appeal to you and to them that this is a fundamentally bad time to be cutting education," Leavitt told a meeting of the Utah Information Technology Association. "Education is economic fuel, and when you're pedaling up a hill and trying to get over the top, you don't let off the gas."
The governor said Utah is making strides by reducing class sizes, increasing teacher pay and training and wiring classrooms.
"This is a point in time where education has never been more important," he said. "Education is economic fuel. I call on the Legislature and I call upon the citizens to realize that. Now is the moment for us to invest. If we are to recover economically and prosper in the long term, education is the key — funding our children, funding our universities, demanding accountability but clearly moving forward. Now is not the time to balance the budget by cutting education."
Leavitt's comments were made to a group of high-tech officials who also heard about the state's efforts to market itself as a technology center as the Olympics approach.
"When you invite the world here to see our emergence as an economic power, as a technology capital, then to balance our budget by cutting education just doesn't make sense," Leavitt said.