As the 2021 Legislative Session begins, we will update this page with information on current education topics.
Final Actions of the Legislature on Watchlist Bills (Click on first page to download entire document.)
Watchlist for March 8, 2020 (Click on first page to download entire document.)
Watchlist for February 14, 2020 (Click on first page to download entire document.)
The second week of the 2020 Legislative session is almost over, and it’s an unusual session. While the appropriations committees have been combing through the budget and proposed spending requests, chairs of standing committees are cancelling quite a few committee meetings.
Funding for public education is likely to be strong. The LRF is expected to go up $207 per student, or about $16.1 million statewide. The Governor has recommended that the Legislature raise the WPU by 4.5%. Because the Legislature repealed tax reform, the state projects a large surplus, both ongoing and one-time, in the Education Fund.
I think the Legislature will end up using quite of bit of the larger-than-expected on-going funding for one-time projects. This strategy will better allow them to address the funding imbalance between the General and Education funds next year. It will also allow them to provide significant needed increases in public education funding this year.
On the policy front, the most significant education issues that seem likely to succeed revolve around helping LEAs account for the various funding streams federal, state and local taxpayers provide. Rep. Melissa Garff-Ballard’s HB 67 directs the State Board of Education to identify the accounting modules every LEA must have. Assuming the Legislature funds the bill, it also directs the State Board to provide grants to LEAs which don’t already have those modules to pay for those modules, to train staff on using the modules and for other costs necessary to implement the modules.
In addition, UAPCS is supporting Rep. Jefferson Moss’s HB 242. HB 242 is the result of intensive deliberation and consultation between the State Board of Education, the State Charter School Board, UAPCS and the Legislature. Among other things, it directs charter schools to use GASB, rather than FASB, as the source of their accounting principles. In addition, it gives charter school authorizers more supple tools when helping a struggling, perhaps even a closing charter schools.
Finally, Senator Jake Anderegg is working on SB 69, which will provide up to a $1,000 refundable income tax credit for educator classroom expenses. This refundable tax credit will be in addition to the $250 per teacher the Legislature already gives educators for out of pocket classroom expenses. We are pleased to see so many in the Legislature supporting the great work of Utah public education.
Watchlist for February 7, 2020 (click on first page to download entire document.)