Support for gasoline tax hike to better fund schools dips slightly

Support for a state gasoline tax hike to support public schools has dropped slightly over the last few months – now only half of all Utahns support the tax increase, a new poll shows. 

Pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds:

50 percent of Utahns “strongly” or “somewhat” support increasing the state’s per-gallon gas tax by 10 cents.

47 percent oppose the tax hike for schools.

And 3 percent don’t know.

Because the poll’s margin of error is 3.4 percent, the ballot measure is almost a statistical tie.

The Utah Legislature has placed a non-binding question on the November ballot asking voters if they support a 10-cent fuel tax increase, with the understanding that additional revenue would be used to improve local roads and schools. Do you support or oppose a 10-cent gasoline tax increase?


The Our Schools Now citizen initiative petition was dropped during the 2018 Legislature after supporters of the income/sales tax hike for schools reached an agreement with the Republican majority.

Lawmakers would put a non-binding referendum question on the Nov. 6 ballot that would increase the state gasoline tax.

Sales tax revenue now going to roads would then be shifted to public schools.

Lawmakers also made several changes to the current property tax law that, in turn, will put more of that tax into schools.

All told, if Prop 1 – the gas tax hike – passes, more than $350 million each year will go into schools.

That is a lot less than the $750 million more each year OSN would have raised – should it have made the ballot and be passed by voters.

Still, it is unlikely the GOP-controlled Legislature will raise the gasoline tax 10 cents per gallon if citizens vote down Prop 1.

Jones finds that Republicans, those who consider themselves conservatives, and “very active” Mormons are against the gas tax hike for schools.

All other demographic/religious groups are in favor of Prop 1.

Some of the numbers:

Men and women feel differently about Prop 1: Men are against it, 54-43 percent, while women are for it, 57-40 percent.

Historically, in Utah, women have more to do with the raising and education of children than do men

Republicans are against the gas tax hike for schools, 57-41 percent.

Democrats are for it, 70-25 percent.

Political independents, who don’t belong to any political party, favor Prop 1, 52-46 percent.

Those who told Jones they are “very conservative” politically oppose the tax increase for schools, 69-30 percent.

The “somewhat conservative” Utahns are against it, 52-44 percent.

“Moderates” favor Prop 1, 59-39 percent.

The “very liberals” like it, 78-18 percent, while “somewhat liberal” Utahns favor it, 70-26 percent.

Now, faithful Mormons in Utah have historically supported public education.

The LDS Church has not started church-sponsored K-12 schools, and LDS children usually attend public schools, with junior and high school Mormon kids getting “free” time to attend LDS seminary classes in nearby church buildings.

However, Jones finds that “very active” Mormons – those who pay tithing and hold temple recommends – oppose Prop 1, 54-44 percent.

Active Mormons make up over half of all Utah voters.

Those who are “somewhat” active in the LDS Church are split over Prop 1, 49 percent favor it, 48 percent oppose.

Those who used to be faithful Mormons, but have left the religion, are evenly divided, 49-49 percent.

Catholics, who have their own religious K-12 schools available to their youth, favor Prop 1, 58-42 percent.

Protestants favor it, 55-42 percent.

Those who belong to some other religion favor it, 62-36 percent.

And those who hold no religious beliefs favor the gas tax hike for public schools, 67-30 percent.

The Our Schools Now coalition has raised considerable funds, and they plan some kind of pro-Prop 1 campaign before Nov. 6.

The main teacher union, the Utah Education Association, and the PTA and other pro-public schools groups may also begin “Vote Yes On Prop 1” campaigns, as well.

Jones polled 809 adults from Aug. 22-31. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.