Initiative calling for tax hike to fund schools has lawmakers' attention

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  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Jan. 14, 2017 11:50 a.m.


    Good stuff and very doable. States with teacher shortages and constant turnover like Alaska have used incentives such as these to get teachers to come to their states, some even expanded for signing bonuses and housing allowances.

  • Cheesecake Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 13, 2017 1:06 p.m.

    Looks like the article could be summarized as: "we previously reduced taxes, and now we don't have enough money for our schools, among other things."

    Funny how that works.

  • water rocket Magna, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 2:00 a.m.

    As a construction project manager and site superintendent I would often have sub contractors and employees come up to me and point out problems I already knew about. I would (politely) point out that it didn't take a rocket scientist to find problems, but that I had hired them to be problem solvers. It seems to me that we have a lot of "problem finders" in education, but no problem solvers.

    Here's a thought: How about we hire teachers who teach with real enthusiasm for their subjects, make all administrators actually teach classes, let upper class students help teach underclass students, hold under achievers back until they (and their parents) take learning seriously, stop building Taj Mahal palaces for schools, get rid of the bottom 20% of teachers, and reward the top performing teachers, go to year around schools (like all other industrialized countries) and especially hold administrators accountable for the funding they already receive. If administrators can't stay within budget, fire them and get "problem solvers" who can. But for crying out loud, STOP with the notion that throwing OUR money around will solve ANY problem!

  • dski HERRIMAN, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 1:06 a.m.

    As I read the comments, some that stood out were the blaming the education problem on big families. As a father of a big family (5 children), my children were raised mostly in states (Texas and Alaska) that had no state income taxes. Now that I am in Utah, and my children had all grown up and start their own families, I look back and wonder if I have made any contribution to society by having those five children. As a starter, all my five children graduated from BYU in Provo. They now all have good jobs making their contribution to society. As my children and their spouses are working, and to include myself and my wife as taxpayers, my family alone is providing 11 productive taxpayers. Therefore, I will not be among those blaming big families, for I see them bailing us out in the future. I do not believe revenue is the problem. Liberals have a stranglehold on our education system we will never have enough money for education. Why not try something new? Utilize all resources available. With advance in technology, why not expand online classes and reduce brick and mortar schools. The last few years of spelling bees have been won by home schoolers. Just saying!

  • goodnight-goodluck S.L.C., UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 10:10 p.m.

    Not enough of their attention that they would appropriately fund education.
    "Oh but it's our number one priority."
    "Oh but we're dedicating more money that ever to Education."

    All true and due to growth and more children entering school all too little too late.

    "Oh but a tax increase on business to fund education, may be bad for business, and we all know that here in ewwtah we are business friendly."

    We've got to get funding from somewhere, seems a lottery and legalized cannabis are non starters. So let's get it done, classes are not shrinking and neither are birthrates.

  • Bob Tanner Price, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 9:59 p.m.

    I can assure you that from my point of view the tax increase isn't needed nearly as much as a cut back on he number of school administrators at the top pay level. In Carbon County we have more administrators that we need...cutting back on their numbers would free up much needed money to spend per student and more money for teachers. Just something to consider.

  • Invisible Hand Provo, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 3:27 p.m.

    @Ranch: What's so wonderful about public schools? The private sector is much better at providing most goods and services (defense, police, and courts excluded) so why would education be an exception? I'm not opposed to public funding because in many ways education is a public good, but government is not good at providing products and services. We will get better outcomes and lower costs with a private system, not to mention choices.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 3:26 p.m.

    To JMHO:

    "Nebsy has a simple solution--carman wants to make it complicated."

    It's not at all complicated. Computers can handle these simple calculations with ease. On a teachers tax doc, the school district reports income and qualified teaching years. In your tax software, you answer a couple of questions: 1) A yes/no question of: "Are you a qualified teacher as defined by Utah State Law?" 2) "How much education qualified income did you have in the past tax year?", and 3) How many qualified years of service do you have?

    The specifics could be outlined in a state bill that defines the appropriate law. All of this data could be recorded on the W-2 form that teachers get from their employer/district. The computer does all the work after answering a couple of simple questions. Easy peasy...and the incentives help us hire and retain great teachers.

  • Highlandmom American Fork, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 2:35 p.m.

    The Legislature has starved Public Education for years. Its about time PE is funded sufficiently that teachers can make enough to raise a family without having to take on two or more other jobs. We have a teacher shortage because the Legislature makes it intolerable to be a teachers.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 1:15 p.m.


    "Those families will buy more cars, gasoline, clothes, groceries, houses, furniture etc, too, in the long haul."

    --- So, essentially you're saying they're going to be consuming more resources and polluting the planet even further. Got it.

    @Invisible Hand;

    I am paying taxes to support the PUBLIC school system, not the private schools. If you want to send your kids to a private school, pay for it yourself. No vouchers.

    misanthrope says:

    "Leftists love to vote other people's money out of their pockets."

    --- Yet you "rightists" are refusing to cap the child deduction to 2 kids and you have more kids to take money out of the "leftist's pockets". How ironic of you.


    " long as my children didn't have to pay for his retirement."

    --- Was your co-worker paying into the SS system? I'm betting he was.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 12:25 p.m.

    MANY good ideas here (besides raising taxes).

    I have to wonder when/if Trump begins to enforce immigration laws, how much class sizes will drop?

    In my area they will drop significantly.

  • JMHO Kanab, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 12:23 p.m.

    Nebsy has a simple solution--carman wants to make it complicated. All educators (even administrators) should be tax exempt IF...100% of income tax really goes to education.
    Otherwise you are just throwing millions of dollars away...just like there is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine because some of the energy is lost...the money is lost in the system.
    The answer is simple, because of changes that Gov. Bangerter approved and signed, 100% does not really go to education.

    As for arguing about accountability and too much money already in the schools...really...even if (as stated above) schools are basically daycare costs to education costs. I think educators would get a raise.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 12:16 p.m.

    I am surprised at all of the comments railing against any new taxes for schools. While I agree that there are probably better revenue streams than raising the income tax, I am stunned at the myopic fixation on taxes as always a bad thing.

    Its a fact that we spend less per pupil than any other state in the Union. This directly refutes any argument that "we have a spending problem." No, not in this case. If we have a "spending problem," then it sits in the column of not spending enough. Hence, the initiative.

  • SME Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 11:42 a.m.

    To all those who are unhappy paying for the education of someone else's children:

    I had this discussion with a co-worker a number of years ago. I said I was OK with him not paying for my children's education (he did not have children), as long as my children didn't have to pay for his retirement.


  • misanthrope sl, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 10:40 a.m.

    Leftists love to vote other people's money out of their pockets. Govt doesn't have a revenue problem they have a spending problem. The biggest problem with govt. education (aside from the 'govt.' part) is 'experts' trying to reinvent the wheel instead of sticking with the tried-and-true methods of classic education.

  • Freedom Seeker Riverton, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 10:05 a.m.

    Read my lips.....NO new tax hikes.

  • All American Herriman, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 9:51 a.m.

    Have our legislators ever looked at states that have NO income tax? How do they do it? Is there something they could learn from looking at how those states manage without income tax?

    What about it legislators? Got a response?

  • utahbug , UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 9:44 a.m.

    How about shifting money from the hundreds of administrators that make over $120,000/year to the teachers?

    Hoe about shifting money from non/education uses to education.

    Taxes keep going up, up, up. Let's reallocate rather than tax. No wonder we don't save money for retirement.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 9:39 a.m.

    To Nebsy:

    I actually like the idea of granting a tax exemption to teachers, but would propose a couple of modifications:

    1) The exemption goes to classroom professionals only, not administrators.
    2) The exemption is capped at $90,000/year, indexed for inflation. Any income above this amount would be taxed at ordinary rates.
    3) The exemption is phased-in over 30 years. Every year you teach in the State of Utah, an additional $3,000/year of your income, indexed for inflation, is tax-free. This incentive would encourage teachers to stay in the classroom and not migrate to administrative rolls at the school or district level.

    These proposals would make teaching much more lucrative, would

  • bamafone Salem, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 9:24 a.m.

    Best way to free up a lot of money is to get rid of all the sports programs and focus on education. Consolidate districts and reduce high salaries to administrators. The problems would be solved and we might even get some of our hard earned money back.

  • kranny utah, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 8:59 a.m.

    The public education system is broken, like all other government programs. You can't fix a problem with the same minds that created them. Asking elected officials to fix such issues is like asking an alcoholic to sober up in a liquor store.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 8:59 a.m.

    It is not really fair to ask people who no children or very few children to pay more when there are parents who have lots of children who pay less because they get more exemptions.

    The first step is to reduce exemptions for larger families.

  • Nebsy Ephraim, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 8:52 a.m.

    Simple idea to improve education in this state... It's outside the box so some might scoff. Simply provide a benefit to teachers that choose to teach here. Income from education tax exempt. No state taxes for educators. It would have an immediate effect on the teacher turnover in this state. It would force efficiency out of the system. An immediate 6% pay raise that costs the state nothing (net). It's simply dollars that the state taxes educators that go right back to paying them (in an inefficient way).
    Do we have any state lawmakers brave enough to do it?
    Examine the argument against this: 'No we have to tax educators! So, we can pay them." According to the state, every dollar of state income tax is spent on education. Why not leave it with the educators to begin with? The only answer I can logically come up with.... the inefficiency of the system allows this money to be pilfered by bureaucracy.
    If you'd like career educators that are intelligent to recognize this benefit and teach your children...... maybe just consider it. Maybe 'like' this and send a message to your state lawmakers.

  • JMerrill Provo, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 8:51 a.m.

    You've got to love the hypocrisy and genius of our legislature and governor. They can find money for personal projects and grand schemes. They can tax our income, property, purchases (in state and out), travel, and if they could figure out a way, even the very air that we breath. Then they feign surprise when tax payers rise up and demand funding for education. The folks on capital hill get everything they wanted -- pet projects AND education funding. And all funded by a nice tax hike they don't have to vote for.

  • stevo123 slc, ut
    Jan. 10, 2017 8:37 a.m.

    DN subscriber, "never sign a ballot initiative petition". Why not? It is the only way to get the legislators to even remotely pay attention.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 8:22 a.m.

    Having Superintendents making over $250k/year is insane. Utah schools have followed the trend nationally to have Superintendents who make $300k+/year. We simply don't need to pay administrators this much to have good people in these positions. And we could get by with far fewer $150-300K/year administrators in the district offices. Put the money into a good Principal (most make $125-175K/yr) and good teachers. Cut back on the expensive administrative positions.

    As for taxes, the singe best thing we could do is to have parents pay for their student's books. There could be partial waivers based on income levels (or a state level tax credit of the same amount based on income). This would 1) Get books into our students hands (my 5A school on the Wasatch front doesn't enough have math, biology or physics books for students to each have one, and they see no reason for it. It's no surprise that we have barely average ACT scores despite extremely favorable demographics!), 2) It would shift costs of large families slightly back in the direction of the family. Utah citizens seem to value self-sufficiency. This would be a great place to start.

  • Red Smith American Fork, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 8:15 a.m.

    Public School is Public Day Care. I know I was a Public School teacher.

    There is more to life than School. Schools have too much money now.

    Most buildings are vacant or un-used 45% of the time. There is much waste
    in Education its not funny.

    Finally, technology has reduced the need for brick and mortar schools.
    If anything, funding should be reduced.

  • ConradGurch Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 10, 2017 7:56 a.m.

    A report released by the U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday ranked the state's 2013 per-student spending — $6,555 a year — at the bottom of the heap for U.S. states.

    We don't need more taxes! The State of Utah wastes so much money.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 7:56 a.m.

    Initiatives are too often schemes pushed by special interest groups who spend big bucks on professional paid signature gatherers. They get signatures by misrepresenting what the initiatives will actually do.
    "Sign here if you want your kids to get a better education" will snooker in moms headed to the grocery store.

    If they told the truth "Sign here to raise your taxes so government bureaucrats will get paid more and we can build luxurious new schools" theyw ould get very few signatures.

    Never sign a ballot initiative petition!
    Tell your legislators to trip wasteful spending and cut the bureaucracy in Utah education (not teachers)!

  • Invisible Hand Provo, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 7:38 a.m.

    I will vote for more money for schools when the money follows the child in the form of a voucher. Until then there is no market discipline and the money is wasted.

  • NorthernBreeze Fairbanks, AK
    Jan. 10, 2017 6:14 a.m.

    Utah's future rests in the hands of its students. It's just silly to believe that continuing to underfund education will lead to a vibrant, stable economic future. The economic outlook impacts everyone, not just those with large families, and so everyone should share in the responsibility to fund a future-focused, innovative, results-oriented education system. (And it's not about single-subject test scores. It's about communication, creativity, collaboration and the application of knowledge to unpredictable situations and entrepreneurship.) Let's build the best education system in the world!

  • Rick for Truth Provo, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 1:24 a.m.

    As a military retiree and on social security, I. Have received a grand total of $10 a month increase over the past 4 years. Yet my taxes have gone up over $118 a month during the same time period. Now your going to bleed me even more for schools. Increases in Property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, utility taxes, give us a break, find the $ from another source, quit stealing money from my pockets. I left Taxifornia to get away from this, it looks like it followed me here. I guess I may have to move to Wyoming.

  • toosmartforyou Kaysville, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 12:20 a.m.

    Those who have large families have many wage earners that contribute income taxes a few years down the road when they are working for a living. Don't be so short-sighted as to think large families don't eventually pay their share. That is not being freeloaders, it is paying more into the future than small families. Those families will buy more cars, gasoline, clothes, groceries, houses, furniture etc, too, in the long haul.

    They need to get a new argument about "per pupil funding" as that is over 50 years old and meaningless. How about state personal incomes taxes----gosh, we're #1 in the country using all of it (100% - every penny) for education but you never hear that statistic, do you?

    Ever hear a government employee such as an educator thank the taxpayer for paying their wages and benefits? Don't hold your breath........

  • Slm0x Orem, UT
    Jan. 9, 2017 11:52 p.m.

    Why is government's solution to every problem "throw more money at it." Let's try trimming the fat. I live in a community where they built a $75 million 3-a high school. There are nearly as many district office employees as there are high school teachers. Throwing more money around isn't the solution.

  • Sal Provo, UT
    Jan. 9, 2017 11:42 p.m.

    We shouldn't tax people for having children. Educated people should have large families. Those children will make an important contribution to society.

    I'm in favor of being taxed to improve education funding if the taxes are earmarked to raise teacher salaries and reduce class sizes.

  • mightymite , 00
    Jan. 9, 2017 11:34 p.m.

    Limit the child tax credit credit This would make a big dent. Larger families should pay there fair share and not burden the system.

  • No One Of Consequence West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 9, 2017 11:27 p.m.

    If you raise my taxes I have less to spend. When I spend less that means someone else earns less so their taxes go down. So then you raise taxes again and I spend less again and the cycle continues.

    There is a point where taxes for all levels of government exceed the ability of the economy to carry the burden. I believe we are past that point. A leaking engine can lose a certain amount of oil but if the level goes too low the machine will be damaged and need repair. Our economy has been damaged by over-taxation and needs repair.

    We need to be able to say to government that we are giving enough and expect them to live within a budget. Our "leaders" have a never-ending need to spend money to buy votes and build their legacies. It is time to say "enough is enough".

    And no, it's not "for the children". It's for the administrators and the construction of excessively elaborate edifices.

  • worf McAllen, TX
    Jan. 9, 2017 11:07 p.m.

    * Let parents pay their fair share. A small affordable tuition.

    * Cutting worthless programs is a good way to fund schools.

    * Let parents feed their children. Not schools.

    Quit redistributing the hard earned money of working Americans.

  • water rocket Magna, UT
    Jan. 9, 2017 11:06 p.m.

    The waste in government, including education, is scandalous and needs to stop. When Governor Matheson first became governor, he inherited the first ONE billion dollar state budget. Utah had a population at the time of between 1.5 and 2 million people. Today our population just topped 3 million (about double) while our state budget is over $16,000,000,000.00 (that's 16 BILLION dollars, and yet they want more? Back when Matheson was governor there was very little homeless. Today we have an epidemic of homelessness. Welfare fraud in Hilldale and other polygamous communities is only the tip of the iceberg, and yet the only "solution" our leaders come up with over and over again is to raise taxes. I say enough is enough. Stop whining about problems and start solving them. After all, that is your job.

    I bet this doesn't get posted, but it should.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Jan. 9, 2017 10:08 p.m.

    Quit being freeloaders and making others paying for your kids education. Head tax and no child deductions after 2 kids. For a State that touts "personal responsibility" they sure don't apply it to paying for their kids education.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2017 9:56 p.m.

    There shouldn't be a tax increase until the legislature is sure that everyone is paying their fair share of taxes now. Also, parents that choose to have larger families should pay more of their share of taxes. You can't put it all on young people trying to pay off student loans, or single people, or the elderly.