How Utah’s new tax cut will affect education funding

Nearly $ 200 million in taxes come from the Utah Education Fund.

(Francisco Colset | The Salt Lake Tribune) The sun sets on the Utah Capitol on Wednesday, February 9, 2022.

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Utah’s legislative leaders have happily declared 2022 a “year of tax cuts” ahead of the general session. On Thursday, they granted the claim, quickly shifting a package of tax breaks through the House of Representatives and Senate worth nearly $ 200 million. Gov. Spencer Cox signed the bill the next day.

The Utah Constitution stipulates that income taxes can only be spent on public and higher education, as well as on several programs for Utah residents with disabilities. Any reduction in income tax comes out of this flow of funding, reducing future income from these programs.

SB59 gives the average Utah family earning $ 72,000 a year, about $ 8 a month in reduced taxes, according to a fiscal note to the bill, and the package is estimated to give $ 194 a year to low-income Utah residents. income level. Recipients of social insurance, on average, will receive benefits of about $ 210 a year.

And for these tax cuts you have to pay somehow.

Because it’s an income tax, the money comes from the Utah Education Fund. The bill reduces the amount of money coming into this account by $ 192 million next year.

If those millions remained in the education fund, they could increase funding for every Utah student by 5 percent next year. Utah is at the bottom among all 50 states in spending per student, and only Idaho spends less.

Ahead of the 2022 session, legislators set aside $ 72 million to increase the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU), a fundamental element of public education funding, by just over 2 percent. The Public Education Appropriations Committee has allocated an additional $ 86 million to bring the overall increase to 5 percent next year. Theoretically, income to pay for tax cuts could increase total funding per student by 10 percent next year.

Although $ 192 million went to tax cuts, lawmakers have set priorities for funding next year’s budget.

In total, lawmakers have allocated nearly $ 137 million for continuing funding for public education. That’s in addition to the $ 335 million legislative leaders set aside for the session. With tax cuts of $ 192 million this year, lawmakers have received more than $ 660 million in educational funds.

Aside from the tax cuts already adopted, these figures are not laid in stone until legislative leaders publish a budget in the final weeks of the session. Lawmakers should get updated revenue forecasts sometime this week that they will use to set next year’s budget.

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