SJR10 (Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution – Income Tax) sponsored by Sen. Daniel McCay (R-Salt Lake County) advanced out of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee on Wednesday. It now moves to the full Senate for debate.
Utah Education Association does not support a bill intended to amend the state constitution. It intends to eliminate the constitutional requirement that all state income tax revenue “shall be used” for K-12 and higher education, as well as for children and individuals with a disability.
UEA Policy and Research Director Jay Blain spoke against the bill.
“Over months of discussion, legislators have proposed different ways to create flexibility in their use of income tax and sales tax, as well as language changes to the constitution and possible ways to guarantee funding for education in either the constitution or state code. UEA has participated in these discussions to see if it is possible to create better guarantees for education funding.
“At this point, there is no final proposal for UEA to consider. However, we are seeking member input to understand better how we can represent educator concerns in this process. Our goal is to ensure that education funding is prioritized, protected and adequate through both constitutional language and statutory guarantees. Therefore, at this time we oppose SJR10 and ask the committee to oppose the bill as well.”
The bill passed out of committee 5-1. It still needs to be heard by the House in the final week and a half left of the legislative session.
HB101 Sub 1 (Food Sales Tax Amendments) was approved by the House in a 57-15 vote. It now heads to the Senate. The bill sponsored by Rep. Judy Rohner (R-West Valley City) removes the state portion of the tax on food which would reduce available sales tax revenue by $198 million.
In committee Rep. Rohner stated, “we’ve been told there’s a budget flexibility problem” and so the passage of the food tax cut would be dependent on the passage of SJR 10 which proposes to remove the constitutional mandate that state income tax is dedicated to education funding. If SJR 10 passes the legislature, it will go on to the 2024 ballot to be considered by the public. If the ballot question passes, then the food tax cut would go into effect in January 2025.
HB 54 (Tax Revisions) was also approved by the House on Wednesday in a 65-7 vote. The bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) implements four tax changes, the most significant being a reduction in the state income tax rate from 4.85% to 4.65%. The rate change would result in a cut of about $380 million and all tax changes combined equal a $401 million tax cut. Because public education is funded by state income tax, some legislators and the public spoke against the tax cut because of the impact on education funding. The bill heads to the Senate.