7/8 Initiative for Education

7/8 Initiative for Education
Fact Sheet

The Initiative:

Education First is asking the Legislature to place a ballot question before voters in November 2016 asking if they would be willing to increase the income tax rate by 7/8 of one percent. This will generate approximately $518m per year and be directed to go directly to local schools. The money can then only be used for the following academic strategies known to move the dial in education:

  • Increasing access to early childhood education
  • Increasing student achievement in math and reading
  • Additional licensed counselors for college and career readiness
  • Maintaining or reducing classroom size
  • Improving technology and training for teachers
  • Assuring a qualified teacher is in every classroom

 These policy solutions are outlined in the, “Prosperity Through Education Plan.” The impact of implementing them together will be greater than implementing them as parts.

The Problem: Past tax changes have left an estimated $1 billion in education funding lost

In 2006 and 2007, Utah enacted a series of significant income and sales tax reductions that have had a profound impact on Utah’s public and higher education performance. These tax reductions are estimated to be $1 billion in lost annual revenue and have moved Utah’s funding effort to 33rd among states for education funding.

This reduction in funding is having a substantial impact on our student performance. Utah, once ranked among the top states for student performance, is now average in critical measurements such as ACT College readiness scores, high school graduation rates and post-secondary certification and college completion.

The Solution: Let voters decide to invest in education and restore part of past tax cuts

To meet the growing demand for improved educational performance, on both a national and international level, it is proposed that Utah voters be given the choice to increase their personal income tax by 7/8 of one percent. This voter-approved measure would generate an estimated $518.5 million annually for local targeted investments that will improve student performance.

The Support: Utahns support paying for targeted education investments
Recent Dan Jones polling shows that 70% of Utah residents would support a 1% increase in the state’s income tax, if the money is targeted for specific programs that improve public education.

The Schools: New money goes directly to public and charter school classrooms
The additional funding will be distributed to local schools as follows:

  • Elementary schools (Grades: PK to 6) receive 60 percent of the funding or $307 million. These funds will focus on early learning and critical skills in elementary school.
  • Junior high or middle schools (Grades: 7 to 9) receive 20 percent of the funding or $102.3 million for math and reading skills, STEM exploration and preparation for high school success.

High Schools (Grades: 10 through 12) receive 20 percent of the funding estimated to be $102.3.  Funds would be directed at college and career preparation, additional counselors (career coaches), and dropout prevention.

The Accountability: Funding must go to targeted strategies with proven outcomes in the classroom

Investing in education must be done strategically and with a clear plan for improving student performance. This money would be given to local schools (with district oversight and coordination) and can be used for specific, non-capital, academic strategies as previously stated. 

How to Act:
Go to http://www.educationfirstutah.org/add-name to:

  • Add your name to a letter asking the Legislature to place this question on the ballot.
  • Easily contact your legislators and let them you favor this initiative
  • Sign up for Education First updates
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter