Utah voters will have a chance to weigh in on changes to funding for education this November.
Some see Amendment G as a stabilizing change, others, a potential slash to school funding.
Right now, income tax in Utah is earmarked for education, but Amendment G would change the state constitution to allow some of that money to support children, and those with disabilities. Some fear the change will mean less money for schools, others say it will set the state on a path to more stable funding.
2News spoke with Julia Miller, a longtime educator, who was a principal in the Salt Lake City School District for more than two decades. She’s not supporting Amendment G this November.
Once you give up a constitutional earmark for something, it’s very difficult to go back.”
She says past amendments haven’t always meant more money for K-12 education, saying,
We had a constitutional amendment in 1996 that allowed us to share public ed money with higher ed, that siphoned off dollars.”
2News also spoke with state Senator Ann Millner, She’s backing Amendment G. When asked if the amendment could mean less funding for schools by sharing it with services for children and those with disabilities, Millner said,
“So it does provide flexibility for us to be able to do that. But remember, in this piece of legislation, it says funding for public education is going to be the first priority. It is going to be funded first. So only if we had funds beyond that could we use it for that”
If Utahns vote yes on G, it will also enact HB357, which Millner says will help stabilize education funding by accounting for certain fluctuations year over year.
Growth for public education, so the growth in the number of school children we have. It would also fund an inflation factor on the WPU, which is the basic unit that we use to fund public education.”
But Miller points out, that simply creates a state statute, which isn’t set in stone.
It looks like a sweet pot of increased funding for education without the rigorous heartburn every year of negotiations and defeat, but in the end, if it is switched to a statute, there aren’t going to be any guarantees. One legislative session cannot bind a new one. There really isn’t a guarantee.”
But Millner responded. Saying:
What I would say to that, is that if it is in statute, then it has to be a really public process to change that statute. Most of us know that for the citizens of Utah, funding for education is their top priority. So I don’t think this would be very easily changed in the future.”
It will ultimately be up to the citizens to decide. Amendment G will be on the ballot this November.