POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

New draft proposal to amend Utah’s Constitution would fund education before other state needs with income tax

Feb 24, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: 12:02 pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers are trying strike a deal with education groups to get their support for changing Utah’s income tax earmark for education and some other social services. 

Senate leaders involved in those discussions said Thursday they have proposed to the groups language to amend Utah’s Constitution to fund education needs before the rest of the money is allowed to be used for other state needs. The current proposal gets rid of the earmark all together

That language was discussed by Utah’s State Board of Education Thursday. It would amend Article XIII Section 5. The underlined portions are the new language:

“All revenue from…a tax on income shall be used to support public and higher education, to maintain a statutory public eduation funding framwork that uses a portion of revenue growth for expenditures from the Uniform School Fund to address changes in student enrollment and inflation and provides a budgetory stabilization account to support individucals with a disability and to support other state needs after the fullfillment of [these requirements.]”

“It’s not removing the earmark, it’s just allows us to open it up after we meet their priority needs, [then] it allows us to use it for other needs if the state needs to,” said Senate Majority Whip Ann Milner (R-Ogden).

Any final language would need approved by the legislature, and also approval from voters in November 2024. Then, a pair of new bills would take off the state portion of the sales tax on food. 

Utah’s education groups are requesting protection

Groups like USBE, The Utah Education Association and others are demanding the protections of having their funding enshrined in Utah’s Constitution. 

Milner added the groups also want that funding to adjust with Utah’s enrollment growth and inflation.

“So we would fund public ed and higher ed..as long as there’s revenue growth, [and include] some guarantee around growth in student population and inflation, then [the proposed constitutional language] comes back to children and people with disabilities and then says [that we then fund] other states needs.”

Utah’s State Board of Education has an meeting scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. to decide whether they’ll support this.

A direct leak to the language can be found by clicking on the link below.

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New draft proposal to amend Utah’s Constitution would fund education before other state needs with income tax