Matter of interpretation

The decision by the state Legislature not to fund renovation of the Marriott Library came down to an issue of semantics.

Rep. David Clark, R-St. George, read a list of building projects the U has had in the last six years on the house floor, and said the U received nearly $500 million.

Clark told The Daily Utah Chronicle that of the $500 million he discussed on the floor, less than one-third actually came from the state. The reality is that just more than $65 million came from the state, according to a report from the Utah System of Higher Education.

Clark’s statement on the floor has some questioning whether members of the House were misinformed before they voted on the bill.

“He was careful in the way he worded his statement, yet the intent was to say that we [the state] have funded all these buildings, they [the U] don’t need any more, but he didn’t specify where the funding [for the projects] came from,” said Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-Salt Lake City, who proposed an amendment that would fund the library against the recommendations of the Capital Facilities Committee.

Following Clark’s reading of the list of the U’s construction projects over the last five years, Clark urged his colleagues to total the money spent on the projects between revenue and state-obligated funds, a total which he said was “nearly $500 million.”

The only projects that the state funds are those that are state- obligated. The rest of the money comes from the U and private donors. Yet Clark did not differentiate the separate sources in his statement.

Clark said he was “incensed” that people have suggested that he deliberately misled his colleagues.

He said he was upset that the House was circumventing the work the committee did to prioritize which projects received funding.

“They [House members] need to rely on the work of the appropriations committee. They need to give some reverence to what they say,” Clark said.

However, there seems to be some question as to whether or not the committee is able to work without bias.

When asked whether this is a case of the U’s library project being sacrificed in order to ensure Dixie State College receives money for a new health building, Clark responding by saying, “Everyone at the Capitol is there to represent their constituency.”

The U failed to receive funding by five votes.

“It [Clark’s statement] may have swayed a couple votes. But did it affect the outcome? Maybe,” Bigelow said.

Rep. Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake City, agreed that Clark’s statement may have swayed one or two votes, but said most votes were already in place by that time.

“There is a significant anti-U of U sentiment. People were looking for an excuse to vote against it,” Becker said.

Clark said that neither his vote nor his statement should be viewed as a penalty to the U. “It’s not a ‘no,’ it’s a ‘not yet,'” Clark said.

[email protected]