Our Schools Now amends ballot proposal with reduced tax increase

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGEOur Schools Now, a group seeking voter support to raise state taxes for public education, announced Monday that it has amended the ballot initiative to ask for a 0.45 percent increase instead of the 0.5 percent increase previously called for.

Officially titled the Teacher and Student Success Act, language in the initiative had called for increases in state sales tax of 4.7 to 5.2 percent and increase in state income tax from 5 to 5.5 percent. The retooled initiative takes sales and income tax to 5.15 and 5.45 percent respectively.

Though Our Our Schools Now originally estimated the tax increase would produce $700 million, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget estimated the initiative to cost $865 million over the three years the tax increase would be implemented if passed.

This July 11 file photo shows educators, civic leaders and citizens at a public hearing at Legacy Elementary to learn about and give input on the Our Schools Now proposed ballot initiative, St. George, Utah, July 11, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The tax increase, according to a news release from Our Schools Now, is projected to generate the desired $700 million by fiscal year 2020. This is anticipated to produce around $1,000 per student in the public school system.

The cost to the Utah’s average median household income is anticipated to be less than $35 a month, according to Our Schools Now.

According to the U.S. Census, the state’s average median household is $60,727.

“It’s time to increase our investment in Utah classrooms so that we can improve student achievement in Utah,” said Gail Miller, co-chair of Our Schools Now. “We are more confident than ever Our Schools Now will be successful in next year’s election.”

The amending of the tax increase comes after two rounds of public hearings held by Our Schools Now during July. State law requires ballot initiative efforts to hold seven public hearings across the state.

The group ended up holding a second round of public hearings due to a “technical error” related to not having the right language on the public notices for the hearings the first time around,  Deseret News reported mid-July.

Provided the initiative gets on the 2018 ballot and subsequently passes, the tax increases would take full effect in 2019 rather then over multiple years as the original language laid out.

“Immediate implementation simplifies the initiative and provides investment more quickly to where it is needed most – our neighborhood schools,” the Our School Now news release reads.

The initiative needs over 113,000 signatures from across at least 26 of Utah’s 29 counties by April 2018 to qualify for a spot on the 2018 ballot.

Signature gathering efforts are set to start sometime in August.

Utahns are ready to increase their investment in students and teachers and Our Schools Now gives them an opportunity to do so,” said Austin Cox, campaign manager for Our Schools Now.

A Dan Jones & Associates poll published by The Salt Lake Tribune Sunday showed a majority of polled voters favored the Our Schools Now initiative.

The poll showed 57 percent of registered Utah voters are either “somewhat” or “strongly” supportive of the ballot initiative. Forty percent of those polled were “somewhat opposed” and “strongly opposed” to the proposed measure, with 3 percent undecided.

The margin for error is plus or minus 3.95 percentage points with 614 registered voters polled, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Over Twitter Monday, the Libertas Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank based in Lehi that opposes the initiative, called the amended version “a slightly less massive tax grab.”

The Our Schools Now effort is 1 of 3 ballot initiatives currently at large in the state. The other two are related to creating an independent redistricting commission and legalizing medicinal marijuana.

St. George News reporter Hollie Reina contributed to this article.

Ed. Note: This article has been updated to clarify the original estimated price of the ballot initiative as estimed by the

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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  • Not_So_Much August 1, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    If you own your home take a look at the evaluation information that you recently received. In my case over 60% of that tax already goes for education. On a state wide basis schools get 67% of the budget which I think includes the additional ONE TRILLION plus the legislature earmarked for education purposes. Enough is enough! Raising taxes will only discourage economic growth.

    What else can and should be done? Volunteer more in our schools? Should we start by eliminating the child tax credit and use those funds in education? Perhaps higher education should NOT be lumped in with K-12 funding. What if took a hard look at what education currently does for society and individuals and what education can and SHOULD be doing. A revamped system may not resemble what we have currently at all. How can we get the most for the least?

  • comments August 1, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    No no no. It isn’t lack of funds that’s the problem. It’s waste, bad decision making, poor planning, and lot’s and lots of overpaid school admins. The fat needs to be cut out of this pig–this bloated, greedy, wasteful pig. How is this any different than something hardcore, leftist liberals would concoct?

    • comments August 1, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      vote NO new taxes for education, period

  • JJODL August 1, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    The public education system needs to be replaced with a competitive business model. With common core, progressive indoctrination, sexual confusion and other worthless “education” the public system is lost. We need a voucher system that was voted down a few year back and let parents and students choose the type of education they want. Why would we want to put more money into public education???????

    • comments August 1, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      yep, they’ve become ultra-leftist indoctrination day camps. Reminds me a bit of the strategies LDS use to indoctrinate children

  • dodgers August 1, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Vote NO. Enough already. They should be lowering taxes, not increasing them.

  • utahdiablo August 2, 2017 at 7:58 am

    The hell with this Tax….Vote NO….how is a senior on a fixed income supposed to come up with another $35 a month?? This is total BS….the majority of my property tax is already funding the school district and has risen 10 – 20% each year, seniors do not ever see 10 – 20% income raises….Vote No

    • Dolly August 2, 2017 at 11:13 am

      I’m with you Utahdiablo. Why stick it to the seniors on fixed incomes again? If seniors are lucky enough to have the security of owning their own home (after countless years of working hard to attempt to insure their independence), why increase their taxes. $35.00 per month may not sound like much, but that’s $420.00 per year…maybe enough to cover a prescription or two. Perhaps those that have all the children in school would be willing to give that much up from their child tax credits…

    • jaltair September 25, 2017 at 3:35 am

      As a taxpayor do you understand how public education is even run? You have the right to demand to know. We all have that right. What were the expected outcomes and how were these measured?

      Seniors should have 50% discounted just for being a senior … SC does something like that and it helps with medications.

  • jaltair September 25, 2017 at 3:25 am

    School vouchers, competition in schools to drive innovation, and homeschooling is what I choose, not more tax. Trim the budget starting at the top. Money saved could go to the children for books.

    Currently, Utah Dept of Education needs to show clear expectations with measurable outcomes with annual reports to taxpayors demonstrating what the outcomes were for the year. As a Utahn, I’ve never seen such a report. How do educators expect to get Money? By appealing to the emotions of good people saying, “It’s for the children?” I buy through taxation local and state public education and I’d like to know how my monies are being spent. Good old, practical accountability.

    Why stay in Utah if state taxes are raised when one could move to Texas where there is no state tax. Even more true if state tax could no longer be deducted from Federal taxes . . . Yes, that’s a possibility.

    The people who are Utah residents and over 65 should only be required to pay 1/2 amount of state tax. S.C. has something like that. Makes paying for medications much easier.

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