Education funding concerns top of mind as volunteers collect signatures to overturn tax overhaul bill

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A petition-gathering effort is underway that would let voters decide whether they actually want a massive tax overhaul, which was passed by the state legislature in special session last month.

One concern for those in the field of education is — how will education in Utah be funded?

“This tax bill takes $680 million out of the education fund, they have not said how they’re going to replace that money. It’s not in the tax bill that they have passed. If they don’t know how they’re going to do that, why should we let it stand — let’s send it to the voters, the voters can vote it down, and basically tell the legislature to try again,” said Fred Cox, a former state legislator who is helping organize the opposition.

Utah has relied on state income tax for public education, which is required by the state constitution. That would change under SB 2001.

“I would remind everybody that sales tax dollars spend every bit as good as income tax dollars, and I expect that the legislature will continue to fund — in a robust way — our education system,” said Governor Gary Herbert.

Many different groups oppose the tax legislation, which organizers have 60 days to “fight.” Their battle? Get more than 115,000 signatures within that window, which would prevent the bill from becoming law until the public gets a chance to vote on it as a referendum in November — at the ballot box.

“It takes some time to manage a 14-million-dollar budget, it takes some time to assess how we want Utah school children funded — and we have rushed this, there’s no question about that,” said Krista Palmer, with Utah Tax Reform Coalition.

Governor Herbert plans to unveil his budget recommendations Wednesday — and says it will include a significant increase in education funding.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...