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Senate gives preliminary approval to school financial literacy bill

Published: Thursday, July 2 2015 7:17 a.m. MDT

A bill that would provide training for teachers and update the requirements for financial literacy courses in high school received preliminary approval from the Utah Senate on Wednesday. (Shutterstock) A bill that would provide training for teachers and update the requirements for financial literacy courses in high school received preliminary approval from the Utah Senate on Wednesday. (Shutterstock)

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that seeks to increase the rigor of financial literacy education.

Current law requires students to take a one-semester course in financial literacy, but Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, said those courses have been inadequately developed.

Jones referenced the ballooning costs of higher education and growing rates of credit card and student loan debt and said students need greater preparation for the economic realities of today's marketplace.

"Our kids are certainly not getting the information because oftentimes their parents do not have the information," she said.

Jones' bill, SB40, calls for $500,000 to develop statewide standards and an end-of-level assessment in financial literacy. The bill also calls for a program of teacher training and endorsement in financial literacy.

The bill was unanimously approved on its second reading in the Senate, and several lawmakers stood in support of the proposal.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, who works as a certified public accountant, said he has worked with many people during his career whose marriages have broken up primarily over financial and tax difficulties.

Bramble also said students need to be instructed on not just how lines of credit function, but also the concepts of taxation and government funding.

"All of those go into the notion of financial literacy," he said. "I applaud the sponsor, Sen. Jones."

Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, also spoke to the issue of taxation and government financial management. Madsen called the bill a good starting point but said he would like to see steps taken in the future to ensure that high school graduates are literate in basic economic principles.

"We can’t expect our young people to grow up to be competent voters, informed voters, if they don’t understand basic economics," he said.

SB40 will be heard for a third time in the Senate prior to moving to the Utah House.

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