SB 255: A $20 Million Property Tax Increase
This bill passed the Senate 25-2 but did not get a vote in the House.
Libertas Institute opposes this bill.
When Senate Bill 255 was originally published, it contained a long overdue process to put a freeze on the flow of dedicated public K-12 education funding to higher education institutions. Unfortunately the powerful higher education lobby quickly shut down that idea and instead this bill has been replaced with a much worse proposal: a property tax increase!
Senator Howard Stephenson is sponsoring SB 255 as a way to raise funds for public education. While his original intention was good (and we agree that higher education should no longer receive support through the income tax), this revised bill hits Utah taxpayers with another tax increase. Specifically, the bill freezes the rate of the basic property levy for 5 years, which will cause an effective property tax increase of $20 million.
Instead of fiddling with the tax code to try and please the Our Schools Now initiative (which seeks to raise $750 million for public education through new taxes on Utahns), the Utah Legislature should look at ways to apply disruptive innovation to the archaic learning model that continues to inhabit government schools. Utahns have suffered through too many tax increases (including a $75 million property tax increase) in the last few years and now is not the time to implement another.