UEA Legislative Scorecard Praises Democrats

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes got the lowest ranking of any of the 104 legislators by the Utah Education Association for the 2016 general session.

Hughes, R-Draper, got just 25 percent out of a possible 100 percent, an analysis by UtahPolicy shows.

The next lowest House ranking by the public education union was House Assistant Majority Whip Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, with just 29 percent out of 100 percent.

Here are the rankings by the UEA of the House’s 75 members.

The union, which includes most of Utah’s public education teachers, based its 2016 session rankings on votes on ten bills, with a few differences in the House and Senate actions.

The lowest Senate vote went to Sens. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George; and Mark Madsen R-Saratoga Springs; who both got just a 29 percent rating by the UEA.

Both Hughes and Urquhart missed several votes on the bills important to the UEA, and their scores suffered because of those missed votes, UtahPolicy found.

Hughes broke out in laughter when told of his UEA ranking.

After calming down, he said he didn’t put much stock in the various rankings of Utah legislators.

“There are so many issues and votes during a session, I don’t see how (ranking) someone on 10 or 20 votes on bills can mean a whole lot,” said Hughes.

He said he was off the floor, missing votes, this last session as he worked for agreement on state funding for the homeless and charter school funding.

“We got a lot done in those areas,” he added.

All of the Democratic House members received 100 percent ratings from the teachers.

No House Republicans got 100 percent. No Senate Republicans got 100 percent.

Three Senate Democrats got 100 percent: Sens. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake; Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake; and Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay.

Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley, got an 83 percent rating.

And Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake, got a 94 percent rating.

The education association gives extra points in favor of a House or Senate member for what it calls “significant collaboration” – which apparently means they got an increased rating for working well with public education teachers and their goals during the session, even if they didn’t always vote like the UEA wished.

Mayne and Davis got extra points.

So did the GOP budget chairmen in the House and Senate, Sen. Lyly Hillyard, R-Logan, at 72 percent; and Rep. Dean Sanpei, R-Provo, at only 38 percent.

The budget chairs help put together the massive state spending bills each session – and can lead caucus fights in favor of public education funds.

Interestingly enough, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, has been a foe of the UEA for years – constantly running bills that seek to curtail the union and public education teacher goals.

Stephenson is the Senate chair of the Public Education Appropriation Committee – which overseas the putting together of the multi-billion-dollar school finance bills each session.

Stephenson gets a rather paltry 45 percent ranking for his work in the 2016 Legislature. And Stephenson gets no points for being collaborative with the teachers.

On the House side, the budget chair is Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy. He gets an 85 percent ranking for the UEA this year and extra points for being especially collaborative with the teacher union.

Hughes was a leader back in the mid-2000s in the pro-voucher movement – which was strongly opposed by the UEA.

The 2007 voucher law would have allowed parents to take part of their school taxes and give it to private schools if their children went there instead of local public schools.

The UEA and others quickly organized after vouchers finally passed the GOP-controlled Legislature and were successful that year in getting vouchers repealed at the ballot box by voters.

Hughes was investigated just before the 2008 elections by the House Ethics Committee over some of his pro-voucher activities. He was cleared of any wrongdoing but was given a letter of reprimand by the Committee.

Hughes told UtahPolicy Tuesday that the Democratic woman who ran against him on 2008 worked for the anti-voucher PIC movement, and was closely associated with the UEA that year.

“But you have to move on, and I have,” said Hughes. He doesn’t hold any grudge against the UEA, he said.

However, safe to say Hughes and Stephenson are not the most favorite folks on the Hill as seen by the UEA, although Hughes says he and Stephenson have been open to UEA proposals in their leadership positions.