The Utah Rural Schools Association adopted three resolutions encouraging its members and all Utah citizens to vote against the tax initiatives that will be on the November ballot.
Mark Littleford, principal of South Summit High School and association president, said rural educators expressed mounting concerns during a recent meeting about the potential effects of the initiatives. They also were concerned about the general lack of knowledge about the measures, he said.Association leadership voted to take specific stands against each of the three measures aimed at rolling back or reducing tax income to the state.
Initiative C, which would allow a tax credit to families enrolling their children in private schools, would further reduce already insufficient revenue for education and nibble at the concept of local control as a highly held Utah value, association leaders said. The tax credit is too low to benefit most families who prefer private schooling, they added.
Both of the other initiatives, which would put a cap on property taxes and roll back income and other tax categories, would significantly reduce the money available for Utah schools, which already are funded below the national average, the association said.
Education is a reliable, cost-effective investment. Economic productivity is directly tied to the quality of schools and rural Utah needs industry, the association said.
Utah's property taxes already are relatively low, it said.
"Children are the foundation of our economy and good education is of critical importance to rural communities and rural children," the resolutions said.
Those who support the tax initiatives say education would not lose money if there were a reordering of priorities, and could actually be given a larger percentage of the state's income to counterbalance losses of revenue overall.