‘Political Insiders’ say budget surplus should be used for education, not tax cuts

Last week state leaders announced they expect the state to have a $1.3 billion budget surplus in the coming year. That massive sum includes $675 million in new, ongoing money and another $646 million in one-time funds.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s budget proposal includes a $200 million sales tax cut and another $400 million for public education. Our “Political Insiders” mostly agree with that, saying the extra money should be invested in education.

When asked where that extra cash should be spent, 40% of our panel said it should go to education, while just 14% say it should be used for tax cuts.

15% said it should be invested in infrastructure, and 13% think it should mostly go to the rainy day fund.


Selected anonymous comments:

Education would be my next priority but I think we need to get ready for the next downturn before it gets here.

This may delay efforts by our schools now running another petition. 

Education is a clear investment in the future of the state.

I’m only able to select one option. But I’d put it in two places: education and infrastructure investment. 

Infrastructure is king.

Invest in education and air quality. 

Market crash is coming, we need to prepare. 

Best investment for long-term gains. 

Our education system desperately needs more funding — particularly with regard to teacher salaries.

Question 1 failed because people didn’t like the idea of a “new tax” and didn’t trust the Legislature to keep the road money and education money separate. If there is a surplus then there should be no complaints.

Trump’s idiotic trade wars could spark a new recession. The rainy day fund will smooth that out.

Education leaders and teachers have been promised for years by governors and lawmakers: “When the economy gets better, we will make it up to you.” Now is the time, but do our lawmakers have the will?

Time to step up for education.

Education #1, infrastructure #2, the rest in the rainy day fund.

Be cautious, the crash always comes.

We have a serious need to improve our infrastructure.

They should put most of it in education. I think they will be wise to not put a lot of it into ongoing programs because the economy will turn at some point. Transportation is the other big ongoing need.

For years the Governor and the Legislature have said that if we grow the economy there will be money for public education. The economy grew. Why is there any question about where this surplus should go? Utahns need to demand the promise is fulfilled and the surplus is invested in public education.

Restore personal exemptions. The elimination of personal exemptions is a large reason the budget surplus exists.

This is the year to live up to promises made for years. That promise was to grow the economy so we would have the money to invest in education. That time is here.

Education has gone without enough for too long.

Forget about another Winter Olympics and stop begging people to visit and move to Utah.

Tax rates should be calculated to avoid significant deficits and surpluses. A 1.3 billion surplus seems to indicate more than just a little imbalance.

Don’t spend this on the new prison!

Transportation on the Wasatch Front is headed toward disaster. UTA will not make a dent.

For years Utah lawmakers have just given lip service to investing in education. It’s time to face reality, that Utah tax policies of unlimited deductions for large numbers of children have created an ongoing education crisis. Serious investment in education is needed, and limiting the number of children that can be claimed as deductions would also help fund education in a way where those who use the system most would pay a slightly higher share of the cost.

The portion of the surplus that’s a one-time windfall should be used to pay down the costs of large-scale infrastructure projects (state prison, I-15 upgrades, etc.). The ongoing surplus should help fund education (teacher salaries), and be returned in part form to the taxpayers.

Time to invest in education with ongoing money. I am sure there will be a lot of competition of good alternatives for the one-time money.

We still have the least per-pupil funding in the nation. We need it to go there.

Give teachers a significant pay raise.

If the legislature claims the sales tax increase isn’t enough for Medicaid expansion, they need to put this money toward that. Or are they just looking for an excuse to gut it?

No tax cuts!

Just because I get a bonus, it doesn’t mean I have to spend it. Save it for the future or return it to the taxpayers. A surplus isn’t free money.

Promises about doing more for education have been lackluster. it is time to do something significant and yes, that includes raising teachers salaries. These unsung heroes sacrifice so much of their time and energy for your children. It is time we showed them how much we truly value them.

I hope the legislature will allow Prop 3 to become law and use the money to provide health care to lower-income Utahns. But realistically I think they will gut Prop 3 just as they did Prop 2.

We need to put the ongoing (not one-time) moneys into public education to better address the billion dollar annual loss to public education over the past 15-20 years because of decreased revenue from the flat tax, reductions in revenue from the state basic property tax rate, and the fact that higher education takes millions each year from the income tax revenues that used to be reserved for public education. We have not been investing in the future of our children, and it shows in teacher attrition, underachievement of students (especially when ethnic groups are disaggregated and compared with peer states), lack of needed support services, inadequate preschool programs, and more.

We have a lot of kids in this state, which is good, but we need to realize that it’s going to cost more than other states who don’t have our birthrate to educate them.

How about you give it back to the taxpayers you over-collected from? This is like a store charging you 100.00 extra for products you didn’t purchase, and then ask what they should do with the excess money.