Utah educators voice concerns over new tax reform plan

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah educators are speaking out against a new tax reform bill drafted for a possible special session of the Utah Legislature.

Utah Education Association says if the bill passes it would dramatically change the way Utah public education is funded.

Heidi Matthews, President of UEA, tells ABC4 News that the most concerning part of the bill is it makes massive cuts to the income tax, which is the constitutionally guaranteed revenue source for public education.

“It does this with only a kind of a nod to a future plan that will hold education harmless. That just simply isn’t enough for us to bank our trust on.”

The plan states it will continue to fund public education at its current level.

“We’re working on trying to find a different way to provide a funding mechanism for public education,” said House Speaker Brad Wilson, (R) Kaysville.

Heidi Matthews says passing the bill would only exacerbate current problems of overcrowded classrooms and understaffed teachers.

“The turnover for Utah teachers right now is phenomenal. We have thousands of teachers who are thankfully stepping up to the job and coming into our classrooms but are essentially learning on the job,” she said.

The Tax Commission Task Force is pushing for the bill to be passed during a special session iN December, to which Matthews says is premature.

“To propose such a thing on a timeline without the necessary discussions to really get the input, from especially the people who are in the classrooms and the closest to our students, but the weigh-in from our communities,” Matthews explained.

UEA wants a plan that shows commitment to ongoing investment to student enrollment growth, inflation and the funding of specific plans that are already in place.

“We need to know that our state officials are planning for the best possible education system that we can have for our students in this state and we are going to fund these plans to make it so, rather than plan around the funding.”

The next public hearing for the bill is scheduled for November 21.

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