Big Utah school funding changes clear first legislative hurdles

This article originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.

Lawmakers on Thursday took the first steps toward asking Utahns to vote later this year on a major shift in the way Utah funds its public school system.

Members of the House and Senate committees on revenue and taxation voted along party lines for SJR9 and HB357, which together would amend the state’s constitution to allow income tax spending on noneducation programs and establish a “stabilization fund” to protect school budgets against an economic downturn.

“We don’t have a backstop today, at all,” said Ogden Republican Sen. Ann Millner. “This starts to build us a backstop that can keep public education on a trajectory of predictable funding.”

Following the committee vote on SJR9, the left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah released a statement acknowledging the budgetary concerns faced by lawmakers but questioning the timing of the proposed changes so late in the 2020 session.

“The elephant in the room when it comes to education funding is that Utah already has the ability to put more money toward education, but they continue to choose not to,” ABU policy director Lauren Simpson said. “Allowing the income tax fund to be used for things besides education will inevitably result in less funding for education.”

This article originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.

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