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Tax Increases to Fund Education and Transportation Discussed at Utah Foundation Meeting

Bob Nelson

The Utah Foundation’s annual meeting Thursday deals with two traditionally conflicting issues facing Utahns, education and transportation. The foundation organizes the Utah Priorities Project along with the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. Stephen Kroes , the president of the Utah Foundation says conflicts between education and transportation going forward need to end.

“What we need is more cooperation, it shouldn't be that way. As concerned citizens and businesses and institutions, can we find a way to make both of these the state’s top priority?” Kroes asks.

Guest panelist Senator Alan Osmond of South Jordan agrees. He says the outright aversion to add funding to education must end by increasing efficiency while adding funding.

“The time has come for us to address both. Now as a Republican legislator the question for me always is does the legislature have the political will to increase tax revenue for public education?, asks Osmond. "Deathly silence in the audience (crowd chuckles)…I don’t know.”

Osmond says it’s not one or the other and finding a new method of generating new money must be found. He suggested changing the property tax structure to add much needed stability to the funding structure.

The panel included Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Mike Allegra the General Manager of Utah Transit Authority, Mark Bouchard of commercial real estate firm CBRE and Natalie Gochnour, the COO of the Salt Lake Chamber.

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