2016 Progress in Education Legislation = Progress in Utah’s Prosperity

Legislative Leaders Commit to Working With Business Leaders on Significant Education Funding Next Session

Education First business leaders gathered at Utah’s Capitol Hill to express appreciation for the Legislature’s support of education during the 2016 session. Many of the bills and successes of this session support the priorities found Education First’s Prosperity Through Education plan. A plan that works for improved accountability, innovation and investment for education in Utah, with goals to increase student achievement in reading, math, high school graduation and college completion or certification. Education First’s leaders are calling this session a success.

“We applaud Legislative leadership for listening to our request for a stable, long-term funding solution for education,” said Rich Kendell, Ph. D., Education First co-chair. “Early in the session we presented a bold, innovative plan to allow Utahns to vote on raising the income tax by 7/8ths of one percent to fund crucial, targeted investments found in our plan. We are gratified to be at a point where Legislators support our plan and agree that Utah needs increased education funding. We have agreed to assist in developing a revenue plan, rather than a ballot initiative as was originally proposed.”

Legislative leaders, including Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and House Speaker Greg Hughes have committed to working with Education First to find a Legislative solution during the 2017 session, ultimately avoiding a public vote for a tax increase.

“We have worked closely with Legislative leadership, especially President Niederhauser throughout the 2016 session, to find a way to greatly increase funding for public education,” said Nolan Karras, president of The Karras Company and co-chair Education First. “We recognize the lack of time during the 2016 session to come to a suitable funding solution for such a monumental request that will impact generations to come.”

“The Legislature has done a great job passing legislation that is targeted for student achievement,” Jesselie Anderson, co-chair, Education First. “We want the Legislators who voted for our priority bills to know how much we appreciate their hard work this session and we look forward to working with them on long-term funding.”

Education First has worked to implement targeted policies that increase academic achievement in reading and math, to improve high school graduation rates and to increase post-high school degrees and certifications among Utah’s young people. The following bills demonstrate a significant advancement in reaching the organization’s goals:

·       H.B. 277 – Personalized Learning and Teaching Amendments. This bill aligns with the Education First’s Public Education second objective supporting strategies that improve technology in the classroom as well as professional development training for teachers to effectively implement the technology.

·       H.B. 182 – Concurrent Enrollment Education Amendments. This bill aligns with Education First’s Higher Education objective two that promotes increases high-wage, high-demand workforce needs.

·       SB 51 – Teacher Leader Role – This bill aligns with Education First’s Public Education objective two that promotes professional learning communities.

·       SB 67 – Partnerships for Student Success—This bill aligns with Education First’s Public Education objective two that promotes innovative public-private partnerships to support school readiness and success for at risk students. 

·       SB 101 – High Quality School Readiness Program Expansion—This bill aligns with Education First’s Public Education objective two that advocates for voluntary preschool, community schools, and other innovative public-private partnerships. 

·       SB 103 – Strategic Workforce Development -- This bill aligns with Education First’s Public Education second objective for higher education as an initiative to increase participation and completion rates of underserved higher education students. 

·       SB 109 and SJR 12 – School and Institutional Trust Lands Amendments -- This bill aligns with Education First’s Public Education overall goals to increase targeted funding growth to increase academic performance.

·      S.B. 8 – State Agency and Higher Education Compensation Appropriations – This bill aligns with Education First’s Higher Education goal for enhanced compensation and healthcare.

“The business community’s support for the 7/8th initiative has been extraordinary and I believe they are expecting us to make progress on funding next session,” said Bob Marquardt, president and CEO, Management Training Corporation. “As this process unfolds, the business community will be essential in placing the proper amount of pressure and incentives on the legislature to act on this vital funding plan.”

Over the past several years, leaders in business, community, education and policy have partnered to put education first. This effort has been spearheaded by Education First and Prosperity 2020, which provide the leadership and the organization to bring Utah’s business community together in promoting a strategic investment in education.  

To be successful, any investment must be tied to strategies that significantly improve student achievement and increased accountability for results. The plan created by Education First advocates for achievement and accountability to produce and attract highly educated, highly skilled people who want to thrive in Utah. Utah can be an economic powerhouse if we make strategic changes and investments. Let’s prosper through education.