Major school funding bill passes

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) - One of the major things to pass on the last day of the 2018 legislative session was House Bill 293.

The measure looks to give tax breaks in some areas, while also freezing property tax rates to help pay for education.

If the bill is signed into law, it could mean another $250 million in education soon. Lawmakers say this bill was already in the works but was a major step in getting to the compromise with Our Schools Now.

House Bill 293 is an odd mix of tax cuts and tax increases to better fund education. The measure lowers Utah's income tax rate slightly, but freezes property taxes which have fallen year over year.

The bill's sponsor says it gives better structure to school funding.

"It makes adjustments to how we fund education, both public and higher education that are important going forward,” said Representative Brad Last (R-Hurricane).

Speaker Greg Hughes says he's thrilled the bill passed, but notes it wasn't as easy as some might think.

“Because you have a year where the economy is going well both of those things are natural and easy to do. It was not easy to do. It was a very heavy lift,” said Speaker Greg Hughes (R-Draper).

Groups like Americans for Prosperity praised the tax cuts in the bill but questioned if the tax increases were needed to fund education.

"Didn't feel like that was necessary--- instead we should have been looking at ways to cut wasteful spending, and make sure we're prioritizing spending,” said Heather Williamson with Americans for Prosperity.

Lawmakers say they worked on this bill before the ‘Our Schools’ compromise, but say it become an important part of finding agreement.

Speaker Hughes said it would have been hard to pass if the initiative was set to go forward.

"If you're looking at your property tax and potentially changing that, but you are staring at in the face of a $700 million tax increase that can work against you as well,” said Hughes.

This is a statement from several education organizations which praised lawmakers for bringing more money into education. Speaker Hughes read it on the floor earlier.

This was just a first step in that compromise, and we will see where the rest of the money will come from and go.

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