Of the $80 million in income tax rebate checks that the state expects to distribute, only $22 has been donated so far to the state Office of Education and $30 to the Utah System of Higher Education.
Taxpayers have been more generous to the state Department of Social Services. To date, they have shared $628 of their income tax rebate checks with the agency.School districts and universities have also been given thousands of dollars, including some $1,200 donated to Salt Lake area school districts and about $2,500 to the University of Utah.
The money is the result of telephone numbers for the state offices of public education, higher education and social services appearing on the hundreds of thousands of income tax rebate checks now being distributed.
The information was included so taxpayers could give all or part of their rebate back to the state. The agencies listed are the ones most often mentioned as deserving a portion of the state's $110 million surplus.
Eighty million dollars of that surplus is being distributed as a rebate to taxpayers. Lawmakers divided the rest among public and higher education and the state's so-called rainy-day fund.
With the possibility that the tax initiatives could be approved by voters in November and slash as much as $329 million from state and local budgets, government agencies are even more eager to accept donations.
Some have gone so far as to solicit supporters. Utah State University's alumni association, for example, launched a campaign for the checks with the slogan, "What the heck, here's my check."
No one is complaining about what's been received. The Jordan School District's "Rebate Your Rebate" program brought in some $700 from parents and grandparents of district students.
"That's $700 we wouldn't have had," said Allan Nelson, district director of Community and Adult Education and also head of the district's fund-raising arm. Nelson did add, however, that the district is still hoping to raise more money.
The Granite School District has received three donations totaling $193, while Salt Lake City School District has been given a half-dozen donations totaling about $500.
Most of the money will go toward whatever educational programs most need additional funds, although some donors have asked that their donations be spent on computers or a special art program.
Margaret Jones, an administrative assistant to the head of social services, may be fielding the most telephone calls about the income tax rebates. She said she has taken about 100 calls so far.
While taxpayers who want to give to education are often contacting local school districts or community colleges and universities directly, Jones has been getting all of the calls about giving to social service and related programs.
Some of the calls, though, have little to do with helping the state's needy. One caller wanted to turn over a tax rebate check to the thrift depositors. And three asked how to give money to the tax-initiative supporters.
"I'm not sure I need to provide that public service," Jones said.
Here's a sampling of how much money has been donated to various agencies:
U. of U. #2,500
Jordan Districe $700
Social Services $628
Salt Lake District $500
Granite District $193