POLITICS

Utah’s Legislative Session ends with school funding surprise

Mar 9, 2018, 12:28 AM | Updated: 5:58 pm

Utah’s 2018 Legislative Session came to a close Thursday night with an unexpected compromise on education funding sailing through the House and Senate and headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Governor Gary Herbert says he supports the legislation, calling it a “win-win-win-win” for the state’s schools. It’s also better for the economy, Herbert says, because the agreement will end the Our Schools Now ballot initiative that sought to raise both income and sales taxes.

Instead, two bills designed to generate more money for public education passed in the final hours of the 45-day session. The first, HJR20, calls for voters to weigh in on whether Utah should raise the gasoline tax by 10 cents.

The joint resolution reads that “approximately $600 million is taken from the state’s General Fund to subsidize the Transportation Fund each year.” But if Utah’s transportation system was more self-sustaining, “more resources in the General Fund will be available for use by the state public education system.”

The question, which will appear on the November ballot, will be nonbinding, meaning lawmakers will have the final say on raising the gas tax during a future session.

The second piece of legislation, HB293, includes a freeze on Utah’s property tax rate for the next five years.

“This compromise I think shows wisdom on the part of the Ours Schools Now people, saying ‘we’ll compromise,’ and the legislature saying, ‘we hear you,’” Herbert said in an interview with KSL.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that the last-minute deal wouldn’t have happened without the pressure from the Our Schools Now initiative, which is backed by prominent business and community leaders.

“I hope Utahns recognize it’s a tax increase,” said Rep. Brian King, (D) House Minority Leader. “Nobody’s excited about paying more taxes but we really need it badly; we have to make sure our kids are taken care of.”

“I will say this, we did take a step forward,” said Senator Gene Davis, (D) Senate Minority Leader. “We put more into the WPU (weighted pupil unit) than we’ve done in the past and we’ve taken care of higher education out of that increased funding as well.”

House Speaker Greg Hughes said lawmakers were already on a trajectory over the past few years to allocate additional funding to education.

“Once we knew we had the right policy, we wanted to see if we could reach out to stakeholders in education and say, ‘Do we want to find overlap? Do we want to find agreement? Do want to do it together?’” the Republican representative said about the negotiation.

The Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest business association also supports the compromise.

“Our support of the Our Schools Now initiative has always come with the hope that a legislative solution could be reached,” Salt Lake Chamber president and CEO Lane Beattie said in a press release. “We are thrilled with the efforts of dozens of stakeholders to find a compromise and now urge members of the legislature to support this comprehensive package.”

Our Schools Now’s campaign manager Austin Cox said the group has always welcomed a legislative solution. Even though the anticipated annual funding increase is only about half of the $700 million the initiative was seeking, Cox says they are on board.

“It’s significant funding for in our students now,” Cox told KSL on Wednesday. “This is an opportunity to not only invest in public schools but also work with the Legislature to fix some of the things in our tax code right now.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Politics

CHEVY CHASE, MD - JUNE 08: Law enforcement officers stand guard as protesters march past Supreme Co...
Associated Press

High court marshal seeks enforcement of anti-picketing laws

The marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court has asked officials to step up enforcement to prohibit picketing outside the homes of the justices.
16 hours ago
FILE: The U.S. Supreme Court is shown on April 25, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsc...
ACACIA CORONADO and ED WHITE, Associated Press

Texas Supreme Court blocks order that resumed abortions

The Texas Supreme Court has blocked a lower court order that gave some abortion clinics confidence to resume performing abortions.
16 hours ago
FILE: Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on September 25, 2021 in Perry, Georgia. Repu...
MICHAEL R. SISAK, Associated Press

Judge ends Trump contempt order after lengthy legal fight

A New York judge has ruled that former President Donald Trump is no longer in contempt of court.
4 days ago
MENDON, IL - JUNE 25: U.S. Representative Mary Miller (R-IL) cheers with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)...
Associated Press

Hard-line conservative Reps. Boebert, Miller win primaries

Two of Congress’ staunchest conservatives repelled more centrist challengers to lock up Republican nominations on Tuesday.
4 days ago
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Associate of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas (L) walks past criminal court on ...
LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press

Giuliani associate Parnas sentenced to 20 months in prison

An associate of Rudy Giuliani was sentenced Wednesday to a year and eight months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes.
4 days ago
FILE: An exterior view of the U.S. Supreme Court building May 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by...
Associated Press

Justices say vet who lost job as Texas trooper can sue state

The Supreme Court is allowing a former state trooper to sue Texas over his claim that he was forced out of his job when he returned from Army service in Iraq.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Utah’s Legislative Session ends with school funding surprise