Op-ed: Utahns can’t afford $700 million tax hike

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  • bookwormNYC New York, NY
    Aug. 21, 2017 12:14 a.m.

    Utah does need to increase spending on public education, but without specific earmarks on where the money will be spent (i.e., increased teacher pay), this is not a well-thought out initiative.

    I grew up in Utah, but live in NYC and raised children there. You cannot compare rate of spending and educational outcome between UT and NY. This is like comparing a skateboard to a race car. NYC alone has 1 million students. If Utah had to educate 1 million children with the costs associated with a big city, there is simply no way it could do so with the per student budget they currently use. This does not even address the higher poverty, increased number of immigrants, or larger number of special needs.

    Utah has an average to somewhat above average educational system. The biggest reason Utah children don't get a better education is cultural. Quite simply, people in Utah value a different kind of lifestyle. They value a more balanced approach with more free time and extracurricular activities taking up time from hardcore studies. This is not a bad thing, but many parents in East Coast cities like NYC and Boston will sacrifice those things to focus on hardcore study.

  • Edmunds Tucker St George, UT
    Aug. 20, 2017 10:10 p.m.

    Des News article. Utah ranked No. 1 state for business
    By Cara Wade
    Published: July 13, 2016 6:35 p.m.
    FILE: Utah was ranked the No. 1 state for business by CNBC. The rankings were determined using official state data as well as business and policy experts to assign scores for a variety of 10 categories.
    For the first time since CNBC started ranking the best states for business, Utah was ranked the No. 1 state for business, (though Utah has been ranked in the top 10 every year the survey has been conducted).
    Each state was measured by how it performed in 10 different categories: workforce, cost of doing business, economy, infrastructure, quality of life, technology and innovation, business friendliness, cost of living, education and access to capital.
    - So add CNBC to the list of admirers which take note of Utah's success with current business models.

    Also DesNews headlines - If it ain't broke, don't fix il.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 20, 2017 8:54 p.m.

    Redshirt I also may be paying for your two extra kids to be on welfare or in prison. There is no guarantee that larger families lead to any additional benefits or costs to society.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Aug. 19, 2017 8:00 p.m.

    Where do I sign?

    I would love to see teacher starting at $50,000 a year. When need good quality young blood in the education system and we aren't getting it. They can go earn 6 figures right out of college these days.

    I would also like to see quality administration and that will require a pay raise as well. Administrators work year round yet in some districts like Alpine, a junior high school administrator can make less than the teachers who work 60 less days a year.

    This initiative will pass once it is on the ballot. We the people have been asking the legislature to do something about this for years now but it falls on deaf ears.

    I also love when people say how much the legislature has added to education funding each year. They HAVE to add that much. We are adding that many more kids to the rolls each year. Looking at dollar funding makes it seem like they are doing something when it reality they are barely covering the costs of all the new kids.

    Want to make it hurt less? Get the legislature to allow impact fees whenever a new house or apartment building is being constructed. That is how the rest of the country does it. Oh yeah lots of developers on the hill.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Aug. 18, 2017 11:10 a.m.

    @lost in DC & Redshirt

    I'm currently paying for large families to educate their children and you say I'll get that back down the road in SS. First of all I won't need SS because I've taken care of my own retirement. I'll get what ever our country can afford at the time but don't support giving large families a free pass under the premise their children will pay us all back some day. What's the definition of insanity?

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 10:22 p.m.

    Oh, now I get it...

    Education bad.

    $2 Billion for prison move - Good

  • cmsense Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 7:45 p.m.

    The wealthy in Utah got a significant tax cut with Huntsman's tax reform. I'm taking middle ground on this one. Put the top rate up to 6% but also add back some of the tax deductions that were taken away by the Huntsman reforms to help ease the blow for the middle class.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 4:30 p.m.

    To "Irony Guy" look at what you just posted. You agree that the universities in Utah put it in the top 10. If we have such good universities, who is attending them? Aren't those students coming out of the Utah education system? If the support structure is as bad as your ilk claims, how can the universities be so good?

    Also, since when is spending more correlated to better outcomes? For example, per pupil Korea spends less than the US yet they do better. As the article pointed out NY spends the most and has worse outcomes.

    To "TeachyMcTeacherPants" and why do teachers burn out? The information I have seen and heard from teachers is that the biggest problems are the lack of support from administrators, apathetic kids, and parents who don't think their kid is so bad. The pay is quite low on the list of things that cause teachers to quit.

    To "FT" if we limit tax deductions for children to 2 children, can we also cut your SS benefits by 50% since it is those 2 additional children that pay for that additional SS benefits for you.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 1:57 p.m.

    pay teachers more, but

    US News ranks Utah in the top 10 and NY 19. Wallethub in July ranked Utah #17, NY #26, so obviously spending is not the best metric. CA ranked dead last in pupil/teacher ratio, higher than Utah

    Plenty of McMansions and SUVs, yes, but plenty of people in poverty. Sales taxes are regressive, as is our flat income tax.

    We should not have a prison? Just let criminals run free?

    The US News education rankings had nothing to do with smoking or hospital admissions. The education rankings were based on 2 & 4 year college graduation rates (6 & 43), education attainment (15), low debt at graduation (1), tuition and fees (4), college prep (33), HS grad rate (26), NAEP math & reading scores (15, 9), and preschool enrollment (30).

    Increasing the sale tax will disproportionately impact the poor, not the rich.

    Jeff Harris
    The basis for your charge, other than you disagree?

    The Kochs just donated $50MM to USU and $10MM to the U. You saw the left’s reaction.

    Limit to 2 child deductions? OK, but only if your SS is funded by your own offspring, and no one else’s.

    Old man
    What of those who cannot afford cable or the movies?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 12:05 p.m.

    Ooops . . . . I had a zero in the wrong place. My post should have read:
    Let's see, some simple math tells us that this will cost $220 per person for Utahns.

    It costs far more than that for a year's TV cable or a monthly trip to the movies.

    Priorities, folks. Priorities.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 11:28 a.m.

    Let's see, some simple math tells us that this will cost $22 per person for Utahns.

    It costs more than that for a month's TV cable or a trip to the movies.

    Priorities, folks. Priorities.

  • liberal larry Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 11:17 a.m.

    A little over 2 million Utahans, $350 per person per year, or about one dollar a day for everyone in Utah.

    Let's see, what was my cable bill last month?

    Maybe I can skip Starbucks once a week?

    I think we can swing it!

  • Johnny Triumph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 10:58 a.m.

    How can we NOT afford this tax hike??? We must act, and act quickly, or we'll be poised to drag the bottoms forever where education is concerned. We need to ramp up our game, especially with so many skilled, high tech companies here now (that other states are envious of). If we hope to keep those companies around we need to supply a capable workforce. We need to increase taxes, reduce school and class sizes, and make positive change to our already successful educational system.

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 10:27 a.m.

    "It’s as if the sponsors of the initiative have no ideas how to improve education beyond simply spending more taxpayer money."

    Priceless reality.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 10:05 a.m.

    More funding is obviously needed. Utah will have to become competitive with neighboring states or our teaching shortage will worsen. Personally, I believe the best way is to limit each household to 2 child deductions. If someone wants to have a large family they need to share a larger part of the the tax burden.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 9:47 a.m.

    "Our model of accomplishing more with less tax dollars is clearly working — so well, in fact, that this year the Legislature is anticipating a budget surplus of up to $130 million."

    I think you mean "fewer" not "less" tax dollars. But grammar aside, our starvation budget for education is certainly coming home to roost. Yes, we get pretty average results, considering how miserly we are, but how do we address the looming teacher shortage? By continuing to pay our teachers much less than they could earn elsewhere, while also giving them large class sizes? Is this the recipe for an excellent educational system? Hard to argue for, but the conservatives continue to ignore facts in almost every area of governmental policy.

    What we really need is to scrap our stupid flat tax that is nothing more than a giveaway to the wealthy. It's another supply-side notion that simply cannot pay for itself.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 9:05 a.m.

    We can afford it. No problem. It won't even be painful. Maybe if we focus on the Koch interests and have them pay, it will lessen the burden on Utah's citizens.

    Money does matter. The State Board of Education just cut back on school curriculum requirements, again. Utah needs to stop being cheap and make the investment. (good comment, @ SMcloud).

  • oldrocker Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 8:51 a.m.

    Spending more money will not fix the problem. The administrators and teachers are at the root of the educational problems. Then you add households with two working parents, single parent households, that can't/won't help the student. This all adds up to a bad education.

  • St George Guy Washington, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 7:40 a.m.

    For a small business owner this is how it looks. The Feds take 15% automatically from you. Then they take 28% more. Then Utah takes 5%. Then there's local business taxes, property taxes, sales taxes,etc. That's at least 5% more. We are up to 53% now. So you want to take 9% more. Perhaps small business owners should just quit and join the 50% of Americans who pay no taxes. You tax high enough and you basically implement communism where there is no incentive to work hard. We are getting very close to that.

  • TeachyMcTeacherPants Sandy, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 12:10 a.m.

    We need to address the teacher burnout issue. Teaching is becoming less and less attractive. What can we do to keep the people who choose to go into the profession?

    Of course, teachers would love a pay raise. Who wouldn't? If your district can't find teachers, it's reasonable to think that they are not paying well enough.
    Also, I think it is more important to create an environment where teachers can succeed:
    Lower class sizes
    Hire more support staff for ESL and special education
    Reduce the amount of testing

    This all costs money. We can pay for schools now or prisons later.

  • SMcloud Sandy, UT
    Aug. 17, 2017 12:01 a.m.

    I disagree. Education is an investment and we have not kept up in the last decade in keeping the costs in line with the growth in our population and inflation.

    If we want to stay an attractive area, having great schools is one of the ways to do it. We need to attract teachers and make class sizes smaller.

  • Jeff Harris Edmonds, WA
    Aug. 16, 2017 11:00 p.m.

    This isn't a study, it's fact-free political propaganda promulgated by right-wing propagandists at ALEC paid for by the Koch Brothers.

    Any adult who cannot tell the difference between a legitimate study and this propaganda piece is the victim of an inferior, penny-pinching education.

  • Jbejarano Eagle Mountain, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 10:56 p.m.

    Please reconsider paying our teachers more. I believe that many teachers would stay in Utah if we had higher wages. Many leave after a few years or change careers. I believe we owe it to our community to pay it forward. In the past when we have increased pay for teachers from 1970 to 2015 I correlated a decrease of rape at 0.85 in 7-8 years from when the salary increased. If you don't believe me look at other states. Higher pay is linked to lower rape rates in the following years. Look at South Dakota and they have lower starting pay then Utah and a large problem. States with higher pay like New York and Connecticut much lower.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 10:06 p.m.

    We are going to be hit hard to pay for a new prison, all the things going on to clean up Rio Grande and helping those people, and for all the road construction going on. Wish we could stop all the drug abuse in our communities and use the money going to the fallout from that to fund education.

  • tabuno Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 9:25 p.m.

    Utah can't afford not to increase taxes for education. History has shown that the rich with lower tax rates have always profited off the poor even since the turn of the 20th century. With public school teachers spending hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to provide for supplies and textbooks for children, with among the largest class sizes in the nation, it is the poor and middle income students along with their families and most of the rest of Utah who will suffer without additional financial support. Without a growing and well educated, employed middle class, Utah will continue to suffer from a residential base unable to afford the increasing cost of health care and basic necessities which will result in lower retail sales and greater unemployment in the long-run while the rich will get richer exporting to underdeveloped countries and the wealthy rich overseas.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Aug. 16, 2017 9:05 p.m.

    This op-ed is false.
    Utah is not among the "top 10" for education unless you include our excellent universities. US News says our public schools are actually #22 -- barely above average. And according to NAEP we're even lower than that.

    Massachusetts is consistently on top: why? because they spend the most per student to ensure small classes and top-quality teachers. They actually value their children.

    Meanwhile, Utah schools are desperately beating the bushes for hundreds of teachers who unaccountably haven't shown up for work. Why would they? Simple--because of lousy pay and the attitudes of op-ed writers like this one.

  • Fair Flower Layton, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 8:14 p.m.

    Although I am definitely for paying teachers more, as I was one until just recently, even I think that increase is way too much. How about slowly increasing pay and making class sizes smaller so that teacher, like myself, don't get so burnt out. There is a teaching shortage, so we must pay teachers better if we want to retain them. 30 students in a fourth grade class is just too much.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 7:50 p.m.

    This group (our schools now) has a slim-to-none chance of getting voters to approve a 9% tax in order to inflate the salaries of (mostly)the principals and administrators.

    The local school districts are now raising their property tax rates through the roof.

    WHY would any rational person vote for yet another tax increase??

    If voters are wise - they'll be paying much more attention to who runs for their local school boards, because THATS where the problem lies.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 6:48 p.m.

    No amount of funding will ever satisfy the teachers unions and the big government types who insist that throwing other people's money at a problem will fix everything.
    The "raise my taxes now" initiative was created independently of the Legislature's new appropriations for mega bucks to education, so this is "double dipping."

    We have never seen serious attempts by the education establishment to cut waste, end duplicate or ineffective or inefficient programs. They insist on building luxurious schools rather than simple but effective places to learn. They insist on bloated bureaucracy and continuing marginal stuff rather than making hard choices.

    Taxpayers must choose what to live without to remain within their budget, and schools should too.

    Refuse to sign the initiative, regardless of what paid signature gatherers tell you, and vote against it if it makes the ballot!

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 6:25 p.m.

    Saying that Utah is in the top 10 among states in education by citing one ranking by U.S. News is grasping for data to support an opinion. Utah ranked #9 on the U.S. News survey because of three categories that it did well in: #1 in low smoking rate (due to the LDS influence), #1 in lowest hospital readmissions (due to our young demographics?), and #1 in low debt from college education (largely because of low cost of living and a high percentage of students attending BYU with its high quality education and low tuition costs), #1 in high job growth (which a big tax hike would hurt), #1 in government credit rating (helped by conservative fiscal policies), among other factors.

    Notice that NONE of these are directly linked to better education. College readiness and our high school graduation rate were both BELOW average! Wow! I can also tell you that when we moved to Utah from back east, we noticed a significant drop in school quality here. The key culprits: Less experienced, younger teachers, a lack of books (particularly in math and the sciences), lower expectations from parents/teachers/students, and too much extra credit and grade inflation. We're not doing so great.

  • Madden Herriman, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 6:21 p.m.

    Bottom line: education reform that focuses on inputs (money towards schools) rather than outputs (if we raise investments in X we will see an improvement of Y) is a waste of time.

    If you want to pay teachers more to increase talent, then set up a tax that does it, assuming you measure talent correctly, and that it leads to better outcomes. If you want to use more videos and tech outside the class to increase interaction within the class, then invest in that and see the positive results. Any generic tax like this one is doomed to be squandered, and will likely do little to improve the situation for teacher or student.

  • kranny utah, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 6:15 p.m.

    To "The Real Maverick"--just because people drive the SUV's and live in McMansions doesn't mean they own them. Consumer debt is at an all time high, largely due to subprime loans and mortgages.

    And, dumping more money into education won't improve education outcomes. Now, getting the Fed's big nose out of education would be a great first step to improving the system.

  • stevo123 Driggs, ID
    Aug. 16, 2017 5:52 p.m.

    Ms. Everton, Utah is about to burn a billion ( or much more) on a prison move. Why have we not heard from you or your organization?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 5:10 p.m.

    In the Orient a good education is had with larger class sizes than we have.

    If we had larger class sizes, such a big tax hike wouldn't be necessary.

  • The Real Maverick Spanish Fork, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 5:07 p.m.

    I see plenty of McMansions and gigantic SUVs around town. So obviously a lot of people certainly can afford it.

    The better question is, if we continue to not fund education, who'll teach our children? We have a massive teacher shortage for a reason. Not paying them ain't gonna fix the problem. Gotta do something other than stick our heads in the sand.

    We cannot afford to be dead last in per pupil spending anymore. There aren't any teachers left willing to work for such terrible pay.

  • nigene slc, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 4:57 p.m.

    Excellent opinion piece, could not agree more.

  • MormonForever St George, UT
    Aug. 16, 2017 4:39 p.m.

    It does not sound like a good thing for anybody.