Plan to fund schools with alcohol sales returns, fails again in House

Published: Thursday, March 7 2013 11:05 a.m. MST

A bill to create at-home resources for parents on the subject of sex education failed to clear its final hurdle Tuesday.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — A proposal to fund schools through alcohol sales revenue was reconsidered and re-defeated Thursday by the House of Representatives.

HB271 would have set aside 25 percent of future Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control revenues for the funding of public education.

The bill was defeated in the House last week amid opposition of tying school funding to liquor sales, but a motion to reconsider the bill was successful after HB271 was changed from an ongoing funding mechanism to a one-time appropriation.

Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, said the bill would have provided roughly $7 million to schools for the 2013-14 academic year. He presented the proposal as a possible solution to the sequestration of federal funding, which is expected to hit schools with between $6 million and $9 million of lost money.

"This is an opportunity to step up and say, 'You know what? I believe in public education,'" Bird said.

Several lawmakers expressed their opposition to the bill on the grounds of ideological opposition to the earmarking of state funds and concerns about creating a link between the education of children and the consumption of alcohol.

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Salt Lake City, said the bill fails to address the need for the Legislature to adequately and properly fund education through appropriate sources.

"Maybe next we'll look at cigarette tax," Moss said, "and hey, while we're at it, why don't we have a lottery and pay for education through gambling money?"

Other lawmakers, however, pointed out that revenue from alcohol sales is already used to fund the school lunch program, and they questioned why those funds could not be used to educate children when they are used to feed them.

"I think if it's important to dedicate some funds from alcohol revenue for school lunch," said Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan. "It's even more important to dedicate some alcohol funds to academic programs."

The substitute bill ultimately failed in a 33-39 vote, which is a closer margin than the 24-47 defeat of the original HB271.

Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche

E-mail: benwood@deseretnews.com

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