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Letter: No guarantee, no Amendment G

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Heidi Matthews, president of the Utah Education Association, discusses a deal on legislation that could fundamentally change how Utah schools are funded during a press conference in the Gold Room of the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Amendment G opens the door to spend income tax (education fund) revenue for valuable social services other than public and higher education.

The income tax has not been producing sufficient funding for public ed for many years, and instead of increasing taxes for other valuable state-funded services, our Legislature in 1996 promoted and got passed the state amendment allowing higher ed to share the education fund, which is costing public ed hundreds of millions of dollars each year. And the single rate tax is costing public ed another couple hundred millions each year.

In the mid ’90s our state was ranked in the top 10 of states in an effort to fund public ed, and now our state is ranked at about 39th. With that history, one wonders why such an amendment can even be considered.

To get the support of the public and public education organizations like the Utah Education Association, our legislators passed a bill that guarantees proper funding of public ed. With that guarantee, the UEA finally gave its support.

If there is not enough money in the education fund as is to properly fund public ed, how is that fund going to provide adequate funding after the other services are brought in without increasing the income tax and/or other taxes? The bill that was passed to “guarantee” proper funding can be changed or revoked any time the legislature chooses to do so, which will be the case when it becomes clear that there is not enough revenue in the Education Fund to do what was promised, unless the income tax and/or other taxes are raised, which our legislators have not been willing to do.

If the “guarantee” was included in the amendment, I could approve it. But as it is, I hope Amendment G does not pass.

Fred Ash