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Letter: A new bill shows the Utah Legislature doesn’t care about local control

Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, the sponsor of SB01, is pictured at Ensign Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, May 16, 2017.
Kristin Murphy

Why is our Utah Legislature mandating how our local school districts can spend their federal stimulus dollars?

I have been involved at a low level in Utah politics for many years. Each year we hear speeches from our politicians about how important local control is. We hear that if decisions on how to use money happen at the local level, generally better decisions get made. I absolutely agree with this but must ask if our new governor or our state Legislature does.

This year, SB1, which passed the Senate and House and was signed by our local control-favoring governor, did just the opposite. Under the new bill our local Utah school districts will receive well over $200 million, combined, from the federal government to help keep our kids safe, help them learn, make up for missed learning, etc. Schools have very few things that the federal government won’t allow them to do with this money. This is great — our locally elected school boards can decide the best way to use this money for our local schools.

Hold on a minute! Hold the phone! Not so fast, says the state of Utah.

An amendment to the Senate bill lays out about a dozen things they want our school districts to spend the money on — and if they don’t, then our state legislature is going to subtract one dollar for every dollar spent, out of the money the state of Utah would spend on your children.

This sounds nothing like local control and everything like Caesar trying for force his will on our local schoolchildren.

The governor must eliminate lines 521-544 of SB1. Local control is a hallmark of our Utah values.

Brad Caldwell

Heber City