HB129 Dead in Committee
This information comes from our friends at Jeremy Ranch Elementary via the Trailside newsletter.
HB129 probably died in the Education Committee on Friday (Feb. 26). The vote
was 8-7 against. It's possible that Rep. Merlynn Newbold [the bill’s sponsor]
could try to bring it back before the committee, but that's unlikely, according to
several legislature-watchers. So the bill is probably dead for this year, but it will
be back next year. Still, we need to monitor the Education Committee for the rest
of the legislature's session, just in case the bill resurfaces.
Here's how the Education Committee members voted:
Voting in favor of HB129:
Rep. Kenneth W. Sumsion, committee vice chair, House Dist. 56, R-
American Fork, Alpine School District
Rep. Johnny Anderson, House Dist. 34, R-Taylorsville, Granite School
Rep. Brad L. Dee, House Dist. 11, R-Ogden, majority whip, Ogden School
Rep. Rebecca P. Edwards, House District 20, R-North Salt Lake (Her
district includes Salt Lake City School District, which would have lost money.)
Rep. Craig A. Frank, House Dist. 57, R-Cedar Hills, Alpine School District
Rep. Merlynn T. Newbold, House Dist. 50, R-South Jordan, the bill
Rep. Carl Wimmer, House Dist. 52, R-Herriman, Jordan School District,
Voting against HB129:
Rep. Marie H. Poulson, House District 46, D-SLC,
Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, House District 37, D-SLC, assistant whip
Rep. Gregory H. Hughes, committee chair, House District 51, R-Draper
Rep. Laura Black, House District 45, D-Sandy,
Rep. Kraig Powell, House District 54, R-Heber
Rep. Don L. Ipson, House District 75, R-St. George
Rep. Bradley G. Last, House District 71, R-St. George
Rep. Mark A. Wheatley, House District 35, D-Murray
Point your web browser to this address to hear the audio file from Friday's
Click on the "MP3 format" link next to "Start of Recording 2." Skip "Recording 1"
because that's mostly silence with a few seconds of committee housekeeping.
The HB129 discussion and vote is in the first 44 minutes of the recording. The
meat of the discussion happens in the first 35 minutes.
Here's a summary:
Rep. Newbold said HB 129 is basically an attempt to equalize the funding
differences between school districts.
1. The "Basic Levy" property tax (or Uniform School Fund) is shrinking as a
percentage of school district budgets. Income taxes provide more money to
school budgets now. HB129 is supposed to freeze the basic levy. Rep.
Newbold said this would somehow bring in additional money to the state
education fund, but she doesn't explain how (in the audio file of the meeting).
Rep. Powell from Heber said he tried to discover how the bill would bring in
more money, but nobody has an explanation.
2. The bill will generate an additional $9 million for the state education system
in future years. This money probably comes mostly from the Park City School
3. It is "property tax neutral," which means that it doesn't increase property
taxes. This feature prevents poorer school districts from gaining money,
which contradicts Rep. Newbold's claim that the bill will increase school
4. It combines 14 different types of taxes that school districts can levy into
only six different types of taxes. This is supposed to help districts transfer
money between different funds. However, the bill also limits some tax levies
that currently aren't limited, which further restricts school funds.
Rep. Newbold said the bill does not transfer money from one district to another.
She said that local funds stay in the local district. When differences exist, the
state will supplement the poorer districts with income taxes. However, there is
one exception: The Park City School District. That's because PCSD is the only
school district that generates more property taxes than the "Basic Levy" state
property tax. So Park City is the only school district that won't get any income tax
supplement to make-up for the loss of property taxes.
Several legislators on the committee and concerned citizens disputed Rep.
Newbold's claims that the bill would generate more money for education. Also,
Rep. Newbold did not address a frequently mentioned fact that Utah's school
system is rated the most equalized school funding system in the United States,
except for Hawaii, which has a single, statewide school district.