And that’s a wrap!

By Elizabeth Garbe, Sr. Director of Government Relations and Public Policy

By Elizabeth Garbe, Sr. Director of Government Relations and Public Policy

The 2018 General Session ended Thursday and had us biting our nails to the end. Overall, children and families fared well this session. Here are some of the notable results:

  1. Thanks to all of your support, HB380 Utah School Readiness Initiative Amendments sponsored by Rep. Brad Last and Sen. Ann Millner PASSED! The final vote was at 10:00 p.m. on the last night of the session. This win helps preserve 1,000 high-quality preschool slots and paves the way for increased access for children at risk of academic failure.
  2. SB194 Early Literacy Amendments sponsored by Sen. Millner Passed. This will help better address gaps in literacy instruction and interventions in order to improve student outcomes.
  3. HB264 Elementary School Counselor Program sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason Passed. This creates a state funding stream for counselors in elementary schools. Currently, elementary schools with counselors have used a variety of funding sources to hire these essential staff. While there is not enough funding to ensure all schools that need a counselor can hire one, it is a first step and recognition that more needs to be done.
  4. Unfortunately, HB319 Early Care and Learning Coordination Amendments sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Chavez Houck did not get a vote on the Senate floor and died. Our work to ensure government agencies and nonprofits serving children zero to five are coordinating and aligning programs to improve outcomes for children and families will not end.

Another hot issue this session was tax reform and school funding. The Our Schools Now ballot initiative created an urgency for lawmakers to respond to the growing demand for increased funding for schools. In the last days of the session, a compromise was found and passed. This compromise includes:

HJR 20 Joint Resolution Submitting a Question to Voters, which places a 10 cent-per-gallon gas tax increase on the ballot for approval this fall.

HB 293 Tax Rebalancing Revisions, which:

  • Freezes and indexes the basic levy property tax
  • Provides increased guarantees and equalizes property tax funding to encourage local districts to use their existing property tax authority
  • Utilizes the increased revenue from federal tax reform to reduce the personal income tax and corporate tax rates to 4.95 percent

osn kidsAs supporters of Our Schools Now, United Way of Salt Lake believes Utah must make greater investments in Utah’s education system and appreciates the hard work of the initiative and the efforts of dozens of stakeholders who found a compromise to increase funding in our education system.

We support these efforts as A STEP toward better funding our education system and recognize that in order to increase academic achievement for each student in Utah there is more work to do. We will need to continue making significant additional investments, with a particular focus on high-quality early learning and partnership infrastructure.

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As a part-time legislature, our representatives and senators take time from their jobs and families to represent us on the Hill. Please take a few minutes to THANK them for their time.

Check out our comprehensive bill tracker to see how all of the bills we followed fared.

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