Education Funding Won’t Go To Social Programs Under Amendment G This Year, Appropriations Chair Says
The Utah State Legislature likely will not divert education funding this year to pay for social programs that benefit children and people with disabilities, according to the Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton.
That’s despite the fact that voters approved constitutional Amendment G, which allows lawmakers to do that. It lets the state use income tax revenue, which used to be earmarked for education, to pay for some programs usually covered by sales tax money. Republican legislative leadership has said sales tax revenue growth is slowing, and this could be a solution.
But Stevenson, said lawmakers don't need to use that flexibility yet.
“When we pass that tipping point, then we'll probably be able to use some for some of the social programs,” he said. “But...that's certainly not this coming year.”
Amendment G also activates another law that creates an education stabilization fund and requires the Legislature to adjust per-pupil funding for inflation each year.
Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, supports the companion law, but he said the Legislature could have passed it without Amendment G and he’s worried what impact the constitutional change will have on education funding in the future.
“We know there's things we need,” Briscoe said. “We could lower class size with the money that could be rolling in, that could be diverted, that will likely now be diverted to other state functions. Why are we so afraid to invest boldly in public education?”
The Legislature finalizes the state budget during its General Session, which starts Jan. 19.