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SCHOOL BOARDS, SUPERINTENDENTS TEAM UP AGAINST FOOD-TAX REMOVAL

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Utah's local school boards and the superintendents of the state's 40 school districts have added their collective ammunition to the fight against removal of sales taxes on food.

The Utah School Boards Association and the Utah School Superintendents Association said in a joint release that "The state of Utah and its schools cannot afford the loss of revenue that would be sustained should the sales tax be removed from food. Utah cannot expect to compete in a knowledge-driven national and international economy if inadequate support for public services, and education in particular, continues."While most of public education's funding comes from income taxes, supplemental appropriations have been made in recent years from the general fund, which includes sales tax revenues, they said.

The loss of $110 million in sales tax revenues resulting from passage of an initiative to remove sales taxes from food would hurt public education as well as other services, said the release, signed by Carol N. Fun, president of the school board group, and John W. Bennion, Salt Lake District superintendent and president of the USSA.

An informal opinion from the attorney general's office suggests that the income tax earmark stipulating those revenues be used for education also could be contested if the general fund loses money, creating competition for the income tax money.

Utah's unique demographics argue in favor of maintaining current tax income, the associations said. The state has the second largest percentage population of children 5 to 17 years of age but ranks 51st in the percent of the population 18 to 64 - the working group that must provide an education for the large number of children.