Utah and Utah cities top many national lists and surveys for jobs, entrepreneurship, and quality of life. But unfortunately another list reveals a systemic risk to our state’s success—Utah ranks dead last nationally in per student education spending.
For years, our state government has chosen to prioritize other funding concerns over those of our children’s and our state’s futures. Utah classrooms hold too many students, and Utah teachers do not have sufficient resources or support to address the needs of individual students while ensuring a meaningful education for all. Utah public universities have become increasingly expensive to students and families, as the state has cut its support. Many young people face a choice between taking on a lifetime of debt and foregoing college, limiting their future earning and spending potential, and thereby, quality of life for themselves and their families.
Cuts to, or underfunding of, education in the short term do not make our state more efficient, better for business, or more fiscally solvent in the long run. Insufficient education investment limits our state’s potential for job creation and economic growth. Utah Democrats are committed to education, because we are committed to jobs, growth, and, most importantly, to people.
Utah Democrats believe a robust and accessible school system from early childhood education to post-secondary certifications and degrees will make our state a more desirable place to live and work. We know a strong education system starts with proper support for teachers, including smaller classroom sizes.
We want to enable schools and districts to have more power and resources to craft local solutions to local problems, instead of top-down education policy that lacks consideration of nuances and circumstances. Parents, teachers, and administrators have the knowledge and desire, but not the resources and flexibility, to help our communities’ schools provide a better education.
Utah’s higher education system deserves more state attention. We must limit increases to tuition costs to make college affordable to Utah families. We must also invest in technical and vocational programs that create opportunities for people of all ages to pursue a better career and life.
Democrats recognize that these policies will require more funding commitment, but we reject the assertion that our state doesn’t have the resources to deliver quality education to all Utahns. We criticize our state government for tax and education policy changes that make schools compete for money against other interests. Utah Democrats will work on a long-term plan to sufficiently fund and staff our education system to invest in Utahns’ and our economy’s futures.
State Senator Jim Dabakis has led the fight for more funding for our state’s schools and teachers, and has taken his message directly to the public to galvanize support. Over the past few years, Republican leadership has promised more funding for Utah students following stronger tax revenue projections. However, Senator Dabakis has repeatedly pointed out the systemic flaws undermining state education spending and has called for designating state income tax revenue for K-12 and for changing school governance to enable meaningful reform from state leaders. Read his recent and succinct plan to get Utah back on track. Thank you, Senator Dabakis, for fighting for Utah’s students and teachers!