Group launches ballot initiative to raise taxes for education
SALT LAKE CITY — The formal process is now underway to put an initiative on the ballot next fall to raise income and sales taxes in Utah for education.
The group Our Schools Now says even with recent teacher raises and increases in funding from the state legislature, Utah still needs more education funding. Nolan Karras is one of the organizers.
“We are still dead last in per-pupil spending, which we seem to feel is a badge of honor,” he said.
They did not outline the details in the press conference, but a press release from the group says:
“The initiative calls for a half-percent increase in the state income and sales tax rate. Adjusting the personal income tax rate from five to 5.50 percent will generate $450 million annually, while increasing the sales tax rate from 4.7 to 5.2 will yield $250 million annually. Every new dollar would be placed in a restricted account, with 85 percent invested in K-12 education. The remaining 15 percent will be directed towards public higher education institutions and technical colleges.”
UEA president Heidi Matthews says the $700 million raised would go toward programs like mentor teachers.
“The Our Schools Now initiative is the first step, and it is our voice,” she said.
Ron Jibson says they will hold meetings for the public about it in July, then start collecting the more than 113,000 required signatures in August.
“We recognize that it will not be easy, but we are confident Utahns will agree with us that we need to do this to help our students,” he said.
Jibson says if they are successful in getting it on the ballot they feel voters will pass next November.
Scott Anderson with Zions Bank says the future looks dire without this effort.
“Failing to significantly invest in education will jeopardize our state’s economy, vitality, and the quality of life we enjoy,” he said.
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