Democrats issue call for leadership in addressing Utah's education crisis

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29 2013 6:30 p.m. MST

"We have to remember that it is not often that a silver bullet is given to us," she said. "In this particular instance, education is the silver bullet that will solve the problems of our citizens in Utah."

Dabakis said the purpose of the news conference was to raise a "fire alarm" about the state of public education in Utah. He said the party is working on possible solutions that will be proposed in the near future.

"We will, over the next couple of weeks, be putting together our formulations," he said. "Right now, we want to lay out what the problem is."

A poll released last week by Exoro and the University of Utah's Center for Public Policy and Administration found that 55 percent of registered voters in Utah support raising taxes to fund education, compared with 43 percent who answered in opposition.

The poll also found that education is the issue voters believe lawmakers should be focusing on most, with 88 percent of voters rating it as a legislative priority.

"It's just an enormous number," said Jennifer Robinson, director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration. "That's almost to the point where you say it's a mandate from the public to focus on education."

Conservatives have traditionally opposed tax increases, arguing instead for more efficient use of existing revenue.

Lockhart said it is not uncommon for tax increase proposals to come before the Legislature. But she said she doesn't anticipate an income tax bill to gain any more traction this year than in the past.

"I don't believe that appetite exists," Lockhart said. "I think we'll have the discussion. The bills will go forward and go through the process just like any others."

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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