Most Utahns believe the recent Legislature did a fair or good job in handling critical state issues like education, Social Services and transportation, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
But lawmakers didn't adopt Gov. Norm Bangerter's $19 million tax cut, and pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that more than a third of those he surveyed think legislators did a poor job on taxes.Lawmakers adjourned Feb. 22 in disagreement over the governor's tax cut. Many senators said it made no sense to reduce taxes by $19 million as Bangerter wanted and then turn around and borrow $50 million to pay for new buildings.
In the end, Bangerter got his $50 million building bond, but he didn't get his tax cut. The $19 million remains unallocated, and Bangerter says he may ask lawmakers in a special session to cut taxes or may wait until the 1990 general session to ask for an even larger tax cut.
Jones found that 60 percent of Utahns think lawmakers did a good or fair job of funding public schools, 59 percent liked what they did with Social Services, 57 percent approved of how Utah's colleges and universities were treated and 53 percent like what was done with transportation during the 45-day legislative session.
While 51 percent approved of lawmakers' actions on taxes - none were raised, at least - 39 percent said legislators did a poor job with taxes.
Public education leaders generally felt good about what the Legislature did for them and didn't do to them. They got more money - not as much as they had proposed but enough to give districts some working space for salary increases without losing too much on the benefit side. The State Board of Education was gratified to survive yet another proposal to change how members are selected.
The State Office of Education got money to hire a director for its new education foundation and to increase efforts in technology implementation and dealing with at-risk students. Proposals to take away their direct control of school nutrition programs, transportation and school building oversight were not successful.
Social Services executive director Norman G. Angus said: "Looking at the overall budget and monies available for increased funding, we have done fairly well. But there are still a large number of unmet needs in the community that we will not be able to meet because of a lack of funding."
He said inadequate funding will particularly hurt efforts to serve the elderly in the community, the large number of people on waiting lists to receive respite care and those in day programs and supported work programs. Community residential placement is also needed for at least 50 mental health clients.
The report card from higher education officials is mixed. The state's nine colleges and universities received their largest increase - 4.85 percent or $12.6 million - in four years, funding 61 percent of the new student enrollment and program initiatives in engineering, nursing, vocational education and medicine and technology. But one of the most crucial issues facing Utah higher education - low faculty salaries - wasn't helped much by lawmakers. Legislators voted a 3 percent faculty pay raise. College presidents say it won't do much to boost morale because Utah faculty salaries are 20 percent lower than those at out-of-state, comparable institutions.
How would you evaluate the utah Legislature on how it handled the following issues:
Don't know 20%
Don't know 9%
Don't know 15%
Don't know 9%
Don't know 19%
Sample size: 607; margin of error plus or minus 4% 890309 POLL9 CASS ;03/09,16:19 1wchart ~
Input file was /asst/csi/0309/pass2/0344 Output file was /asst/csi/0309/pass3/0443