Our Schools Now Launches Campaign
Our Schools Now Files Teacher and Student Success Act,
Formally Launching Initiative Campaign
SALT LAKE CITY, June 6, 2017 – Today, Our Schools Now submitted the Teacher and Student Success Act to the Lt Governor, formally launching the ballot initiative to bring the largest investment increase to Utah schools in history.
“We are 50th in the nation in per-pupil spending and half of Utah students are not proficient in math, science and language arts,” said Nolan Karras, former Utah Speaker of the House and Our Schools Now executive committee member. “Investing in teachers, early learning opportunities and college and career readiness programs are proven to increase student achievement. Without greater investment, our students will continue to fall further behind.”
Surrounded by some of Utah’s most decorated teachers, the initiative application was signed by Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank; Ron Jibson, retired chairman and CEO of Questar; Wilford Clyde, chair of the Salt Lake Chamber; and Allison Riddle, 2014 Utah Teacher of the Year. Also joining as initiative sponsors were Gail Miller, owner of Larry H. Miller Group of Companies; Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber; and Rep. Becky Edwards (R-North Salt Lake).
“Taking Utah’s economy to even greater heights begins with an increased commitment to Utah teachers and students,” said Anderson. “Enhancing the quality of our workforce is key to our continued success. We do not know what the next emerging industry will be, but high-quality education will have Utah students ready for the opportunities of tomorrow.”
The initiative calls for a half percent increase in the state income and sales tax rate. Adjusting the personal income tax rate from five to 5.50 percent will generate $450 million annually, while increasing the sales tax rate from 4.7 to 5.2 will yield $250 million annually. Every new dollar would be placed in a restricted account, with 85 percent invested in K-12 education. The remaining 15 percent will be directed towards public higher education institutions and technical colleges.
Changes to tax policy over the last twenty years are resulting in $1.2 billion being removed from K-12 education each year. The Teacher and Student Success Act invests nearly $1,000 per student at the school level to ensure improved student achievement. The Act recognizes that students in different communities have different needs, and local control of funds will maximize their success.
The initiative is now available for public review. Beginning in July, Our Schools Now will host seven public hearings across the state to receive public comment. Once the Elections Office approves the Teacher and Student Success Act, the campaign will begin collecting more than 113,000 signatures to qualify the Act for the 2018 general election.