Last place isn’t bad enough so Utah lawmakers are taking $680 million away from education

Poll shows two-thirds of Utah voters oppose plan to change education funding

Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 7, 2020—Utah comes in dead last every year on spending per student—but it could get worse because Utah’s new tax reform bill takes $680 million each year away from education. A nonpartisan group is asking Utahns to sign a petition that would let voters decide the fate of the tax reform bill that changes the way education is funded in the state.

At a special session in December, legislators passed S.B. 2001, a tax reform bill that takes hundreds of millions away from education, even though the Utah Constitution requires all income tax revenues go to education.

“We live in a state with 3 million people that includes 660,000 K-12 students and a very large percentage of state funds going to public education,” says Fred C. Cox, referendum organizer and former state legislator. “We are never going to tax our way out of the situation we are in, but this tax reform bill plunges a knife in the heart of education funding.”

The U.S. Census calculated Utah spent $7,179 per student in 2017, earning 51st place on the U.S. list that includes Washington, D.C. This means the Beehive State spends about half of the national average in per-pupil spending ($12,201) and less than one-third being spent by the top state ($23,091 in New York).

A new poll by Utah Policy shows two-thirds of Utah voters oppose lawmaker’s plan to remove public education earmarks for personal and corporate income tax revenue. The referendum to stop the plan has the support of the Utah Education Association, community and business leaders like Gail Miller and many of Utah’s gubernatorial candidates.

During the Utah Legislature Listening Tour, the public overwhelmingly opposed the policies contained in SB2001. In 100% of recorded testimony, those representing education stood to state their opposition during the final Tax Task Force committee meetings.

“The legislature is effectively playing chicken with education,” says Krista Palmer, Utah Tax Reform Coalition, executive director. “Legislators and Governor Herbert have both ignored education’s concerns and are attempting to shift the burden to property taxes by killing Truth in Taxation. Without a referendum, we have a lose-lose situation.”

Registered voters can go to www.utah2019tax.com to learn how to sign the referendum. Contact information for petition coordinators in each county is available at this link A list with the latest times, dates and locations for petition signing events can be found here.

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