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Tax Reform

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Resources for Tax Restructuring Task Force Town Hall Meetings


Introduction to Tax Reform by UEA President Heidi Matthews – August 5, 2019

UEA President Heidi Matthews encourages educators to get involved...


Did You Know...Utah's Constitution Guarantees 100% of Income Tax Goes to Education? – August 5, 2019

Primary Source and Uses of State Funding 

 
The Utah State Constitution contains a guarantee made by the people of Utah to support the education of future generations of children.

Eliminating this constitutional guarantee, as some have proposed, would put K-12 resources at risk. Without the guarantee, our schoolchildren would be forced to compete for funding with all state expenditures, like social services, transportation and law enforcement, and also projects such as moving the Utah State Prison, the Lake Powell pipeline and the Inland Port.

Tax Reform Matters!

The educators of UEA remain committed to ensuring student equity and opportunity in today’s classrooms and for future generations. The Utah State Legislature is currently discussing major changes to the way it collects revenue and pays for state services, such as education. These changes will likely impact generations of students, so we must get this right.

It is critical educator voices are heard!


Education a Hot Topic at Tax Townhall Meetings – August 6, 2019

Teachers were out in force over the summer as the Utah Legislature conducted townhall meetings to discuss tax reform. The Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force held a series of eight revenue restructure meetings across the state, beginning June 25 in Brigham City and concluding July 30 in Orem.

“It is not an exaggeration to say the decisions resulting from the tax reform process have the potential to impact education funding for generations,” said UEA Government Relations Director Chase Clyde. “The Legislature needs to hear that tax decisions are important because ensuring sustainable growth in education funding is important. It is critical that the voices of educators are heard.”

Indeed, teachers were heard. Teachers wearing #RedForEd took the microphone in many of the meetings to express the need for protecting and growing education funding.

“Current funding of education is not meeting the needs of our students,” said Grand High School teacher Hank Postma at the Moab townhall meeting. “We’ve been told the last decade plus to be patient and let the economy grow and that growth will fund the needs of our students. Well, the economy has grown and rather than taking the opportunity to invest in our children, we are now looking at moving that money elsewhere.”

During the Davis County meeting, Weber School District teacher Maddie Williams said, “I’m here for the students, that’s why I teach.” She described the difficulties in teaching classes with a large number of students. “Those kids deserve to have a comfortable place to learn and without funding in the right places, we can’t do our jobs.”

While revenues for education are up (Education Fund), the state has experienced much slower growth in revenues for other services (General Fund). Failed attempts to address General Fund shortfalls led the 2019 Legislature to pass HB495, creating the Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force charged to “study state and local revenue systems with the purpose of making recommendations to address structural imbalances among revenue sources.”

Next steps in the process are yet to be publicly announced. Check here at UEA Under the Dome regularly for the most recent information, links and updated meeting details.


UEA: Utah tax policy should ‘grow public education investments in student success’ – May 30, 2019

The UEA released the following Issue Brief outlining its recommendations for tax policy solutions…

UEA Issue Brief: Utah State Tax Restructuring and Equalization

While revenues for education are up (Education Fund), the state has experienced much slower growth in revenues for other services (General Fund). Failed attempts to address General Fund shortfalls led the 2019 Legislature to pass HB495, creating a “Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force” charged to “study state and local revenue systems with the purpose of making recommendations to address structural imbalances among revenue sources.” The Task Force will hold town hall meetings around the state to solicit public engagement and ideas.

The UEA SUPPORTS tax policy solutions that…

1. Grow public education investments in student success

  • It is not enough to simply maintain or “hold harmless” education funding. Our students need secure sustainable and growing education revenue sources.
  • We must safeguard and expand long-term resources available for public education such as provided by the Utah constitutional guarantee directing income tax to education
  • Policymakers should rely on teachers as experts when identifying what is needed to ensure student success.

2. Provide equitable resources for ALL students to learn and thrive

  • All students, regardless of zip code, deserve learning opportunities in safe schools, classes small enough for one-on-one attention and up-to-date learning materials/tools.
  • Students cannot learn when they are hungry, stressed or in pain. Families in need should be provided support services like nutrition, counseling and health care.

3. Allow the state to attract and retain qualified teachers and other school staff

  • We must invest in the root causes of the teacher shortage and support teaching as a sustainable profession.
  • We must ensure that every educator has the resources, mentoring and support they need to ensure student success.
  • Salary is critical, but resources must be provided to address other stress factors driving teachers from the profession such as:

-   class sizes well beyond recommended norms for optimal student learning;

-   over-focus on standardized tests that take up valuable learning time;

-   lack of classroom support (counselors, librarians, paraeducators, etc.);

-   increasing student social, emotional and behavior issues; and

-   insufficient mentoring support for educators entering the profession.


- Printable version of the UEA Issue Brief: Utah State Tax Restructuring and Equalization (pdf)
- "Telling Your Story" about education funding (pdf)


Task force charged with tax restructuring holds first meeting, announces townhall dates – May 30, 2019

Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force (reported by Jay Blain): The first meeting of the Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force included a discussion of the process and announcement of tentative town hall meeting dates and locations, but included no public comment, policy action or discussion. Several teachers were in attendance wearing their #RedForEd.

After introductions, Rep. Mike Schultz gave a recap of the 2019 Legislature’s HB441. The bill would have reduced the income tax and expanded sales tax to many services. His summary was that there was not enough time to address all the concerns raised. He said the process worked.

Jonathan Ball, legislative fiscal analyst, gave a presentation to review the definition of the problem. They also shared a document explaining the vision and principles for the task force and a process graphic about public input.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard explained that the purpose of the town halls is not to debate but to get public input on options. He also said legislative staff will be developing a website for the task force where the public can enter comments, get information about the data and other items.

The tentative town hall dates, times and locations announced during the meeting are as follows, with specific venues to be named later (handout provided at the meeting):

  • Tuesday, June 25, Brigham City, 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 27, Salt Lake County, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, June 28, Richfield, 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 29, St George, mid-day (no specific time given)
  • Monday, July 8, Davis/Weber County, 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 9, Roosevelt, 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 20, Moab, mid-day (no specific time given)
  • Tuesday, July 30, Utah County, 6 p.m.