Tax and Budget

 

Utah Taxes Lowest pointIn January 2015, the Utah Foundation reported that Utah’s overall tax burden, including all state and local taxes and fees, had fallen to its lowest level in at least 20 years: “Over the past several years, tax cuts have reduced Utah’s annual revenues by $479 million.” 

As a result, our investment in education remains well below pre-recession levels. Per-pupil state formula funding for K-12 education is down 11.9% from FY 2008 to 2017 (the current fiscal year). This 11.9% drop measures just the state contribution that constitutes two-thirds of our total public education budget. But the picture is no better when we look at the older data that include both state and local funding, which showed us seventh worst in the nation with a 17% drop in per-pupil expenditure for 2008-2014. The Voices for Utah Children's Utah Children’s Budget Report 2015 found that FY2014 real state spending per child remained 6% below pre-recession levels. Moreover, investment in K-12 education in particular has actually fallen in real terms since the 2008-2009 recession, before even accounting for the 7% growth in the number of children in Utah from FY2008 to FY2014.

While everyone enjoys paying lower taxes and having more dollars in our pockets today, these findings raise important questions about whether the current generation of Utahns is doing its part, as earlier generations did, to invest in our children and lay the foundations for Utah’s future growth and prosperity.

Moreover, recent data on high school graduation rates and college degrees raise warning signs that should concern all Utahns. Every racial and ethnic group in our state — including our two largest populations, whites and Hispanics — is below national averages for high school graduation rates. At the level of higher education, Utah’s share of college degrees among our younger generation has not kept up with the increases seen nationally.

Utah graduation rates

Opponents of new education revenues have for years counseled patience, assuring us that the economic boom that will generate new public education revenues is just around the corner or perhaps just another tax cut away. How long will we wait and watch our educational performance suffer — endangering our future prosperity — before taking seriously the challenge before us?

Printer-friendly Version:

pdf2017 Children's Fiscal Policy Agenda

More Information:

Utah Tax Reform Proposals: Who Wins and Who Loses?

Tax Reform and Utah's Most Vulnerable Populations

 

virtuous cycle website


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

Published in News & Blog

Yesterday, Governor Herbert released his annual state budget recommendations.

The staff of Voices for Utah children found several reasons to be encouraged by his proposals.

We support the Governor and his team for their commitment to social services, and our most vulnerable children and families. Specifically, we applaud the Governor’s fiscally-prudent step to support family planning. This will have important benefits for families, including those in intergenerational poverty. With this investment, the state can expect to see savings by 2019. We thank the Governor for his leadership on this issue critical to children and families.

As an organization dedicated to helping all Utah children and families succeed, we believe that our social safety net provides a critical role to help families who have fallen on hard times get back on their feet. As noted in the Budget Recommendations, Utah has a “longstanding social fabric of self-determination.”

Our state budget priorities should support families’ ability to access and utilize public benefits in their time of need. Utah has the highest rate of children who are eligible for CHIP and Medicaid, but not enrolling in public programs. These children are uninsured and not able to benefit from health care services.

As the Governor declares, “the most effective programs, in terms of both quality outcomes and costs, prioritize preventative service delivery.” We strongly support the Governor’s focus. Health insurance coverage is the foundation to build successful prevention initiatives. We must strengthen and support our health insurance programs so that families and children can achieve their optimal health.

We are encouraged by the Governor’s recognition that early childhood is the cornerstone for lifelong learning. We support the Governor’s appropriation for the Baby Watch Early Intervention program as a critical first step. We look forward to seeing the Governor’s 10-year education plan, and hope the Governor will maintain his commitment to early childhood, so that we can establish a strong foundation for children’s healthy development, setting them up for success in school and beyond.

Voices for Utah Children welcomes Governor Herbert’s call in his FY2018 Budget Recommendations to conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s overall tax structure. In the section entitled “Taxation and a Free Market Economy” on page 9-12 (pages 13-16 of the pdf), there is an extended discussion of the trends and challenges facing Utah in terms of taxes and public revenues. The report highlights the downward trend in Utah’s overall level of taxation (including all state and local taxes and fees) and refers to the growing public sentiment that current revenues fall short of meeting the state’s minimum needs. The Governor declares his intention to address this pressing challenge with two concrete actions:
1. “the Governor will be establishing a task force of business leaders and education stakeholders to develop a comprehensive solution that aligns Utah’s tax structure with the modern economy (not just a rate increase), and
2. will request that the Tax Review Commission study and make recommendations regarding the state’s current tax structure, including alternatives for aligning the tax structure with the modern economy and identifying and reviewing tax credits, tax exemptions, tax exclusions, and other preferential tax loopholes.” (page 12)

The Governor and his team should be applauded for addressing these issues so thoughtfully and directly in the Budget Recommendations document and for his intent to convene further study and discussion about how to address this challenge going forward. In other states across the nation and across the political spectrum, the presence or absence of gubernatorial leadership has been a critical factor in determining whether states have been able to address their pressing challenges.

Voices for Utah Children has for a number of years raised the question of whether the current generation of Utahns is doing its part, as earlier generations did, to set aside sufficient resources each year to invest in the building blocks of our future growth and prosperity. Utah’s longstanding commitment to fiscal responsibility should extend beyond balanced budgets and strong bond ratings to also include taking responsibility for making the necessary investments today that reap benefits for future generations in the years and decades to come.

The complete document is available here:

Budget Recommendations Fiscal Year 2018


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

Published in News & Blog

This op-ed by Voices for Utah Children State Priorities Partnership Director Matthew Weinstein originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune on October 29, 2016.

This month saw the publication of new state and federal data on high school graduation rates for the 2014-15 school year. "Utah high school graduation rate above average: 84.8 percent" crowed the headline of the Associated Press coverage carried in many Utah newspapers. But a closer look at the data reveals a more troubling picture.

graduation 1316905 639x426For the nation as a whole, high school graduation rates have been rising steadily in recent years. When broken out by race and ethnicity, the data show progress across the board, but also substantial disparities.

Here are the data for U.S. high school graduation rates in 2015: U.S. overall, 83.2 percent; whites, 87.6 percent; Latinos, 77.8 percent; Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, 90.2 percent; African Americans, 74.6 percent; American Indians, 71.6 percent.

And here are the equivalent data for Utah in 2015: Utah overall, 84.8 percent; whites, 87.4 percent; Latinos 74.4 percent, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, 86.0 percent; African Americans, 70.0 percent; American Indians, 70.0 percent.

Two things stand out about these data:

1) Utah is ahead of the national average in the overall high school graduation rate.

2) Every single ethnic/racial group in Utah is behind its own group's national average, including our two largest populations, whites and Hispanics.

How is it possible that we are ahead of the national average overall but behind within each individual ethnic/racial group? The answer is simple math: we have a higher-than-average share of whites, who have a higher than average high school graduation rate. Utah's population is 79 percent non-Hispanic white, while the national average is 62 percent.

But should we be concerned that every racial/ethnic group in Utah is behind the national graduation rates for its own group? We should, for several reasons:

1) Regarding our white majority, these data should prompt us to ask: Why has the white population in Utah over the last few years been 0.2-0.6 points behind whites nationally? Could it be that even Utah's highest-in-the-nation level of two-parent families and high levels of parent volunteerism are not enough to overcome the detrimental effects of our lowest-in-the-nation level of per-pupil funding, even among the most economically secure segment of our population?

2) Our Hispanic minority is growing fast — now reaching 14 percent of the state's population — and 17 percent of our children. This means that Latinos are one-sixth of our future workforce. The fact that their graduation rate is 10.4 points behind the state average — and 3.4 points behind Latinos nationally — should be cause for very great concern.

3) Our two smallest minorities, African Americans and American Indians, together make up 3 percent of our population and fall 15 percentage points behind the state average for high school graduation rates, our largest disparity.

Utah fell behind in college degreesThese alarming findings come just a few months after it was reported that Utah has now, for the first time on record, fallen behind the national average for college degrees (bachelor's degrees and higher among our working-age population ages 25-64). Taken together, these new data show Utah underperforming at both the high school and college levels, seriously weakening the case made by those who argue that new revenues are unnecessary because we achieve good results in spite of low investment.

Following a decade of tax cutting, Utah's overall tax burden (including all state and local taxes and fees) is at a multi-decade low. Utah's sub-par educational performance raises an important question about whether the current generation of Utahns is doing its part, as earlier generations did, to set aside sufficient resources to invest in our children and lay the foundations for our future growth and prosperity. While raising taxes is rarely popular, any mom or dad will tell you that sometimes you have to eat your broccoli, whether you like it or not.

Slide1On the topic of low investment, this month also saw the release of a new national report that found Utah ranks sixth worst in the nation for our drop in per-pupil state formula funding for K-12 education — down 11.9 percent from FY 2008 to 2017 (the current fiscal year). This 11.9 percent drop measures just the state contribution that constitutes two-thirds of our total public education budget. But the picture is no better when we look at the older data that include both state and local funding, which showed us seventh worst in the nation with a 17 percent drop in per-pupil expenditure for 2008-2014.

Opponents of new education revenues have for years counseled patience. They have for years assured us that the economic boom that will generate new public education revenues is just around the corner or perhaps just another tax cut away. How long will we wait and watch our educational performance suffer — endangering our future prosperity — before taking seriously the challenge before us?

 


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog

This week saw the publication of new state and federal data on high school graduation rates for the school year than ended in June 2015. “Utah high school graduation rate above average: 84.8 percent” crowed the headline of the AP coverage carried in many Utah newspapers. But a closer look at the data reveals a more troubling picture.

It is a well-known and highly distressing fact of American life that we suffer from tremendous disparities among our various racial and ethnic groups in many social and economic characteristics, including educational attainment. For the nation as a whole, here are the high school graduation rates trends over the past few years, broken out by race and ethnicity:

grad rates US

Now here are the equivalent data for Utah:

grad rates UT

Two things about these data stand out:
1) Utah is ahead of the national average in the overall high school graduation rate. Bravo for us!
2) Every single ethnic/racial group in Utah is behind its own group’s national average, including our two largest groups, whites and Hispanics. Huh?

How is it possible that we are ahead of the national average overall but behind within each individual ethnic/racial group? The answer is simple math: we have a higher-than-average share of whites, who have a higher than average high school graduation rate. Utah’s population is 79% non-Hispanic white, while the national average is 62%. Thus, the fact that we have a higher share of a group with a higher graduation rate gives us an advantage in the overall high school graduation rate.

But should we be concerned that every racial/ethnic group in Utah is behind the national graduation rates for its own group? We should, for at least two reasons:

1) Inevitably we have to ask, why has the white population in Utah over the last few years been 0.2-0.6 points behind whites nationally? Could it be that even Utah’s highest-in-the-nation level of two-parent families and high levels of parent volunteerism are not enough to overcome the detrimental effects of our lowest-in-the-nation level of per-pupil funding, even among our white population? That would certainly appear to be the case.

2) Our Hispanic minority is growing fast – now reaching 14% of the state’s population -- and 17% of our children. This means that Latinos are one-sixth of our future workforce. The fact that their graduation rate is 10 points behind the state average – and 3.4 points behind Latinos nationally – should be cause for very great concern.

These alarming findings come just a few months after Voices for Utah Children reported that Utah has now, for the first time on record, fallen behind the national average for college degrees (Bachelor’s degrees and higher among our working-age population ages 25-64). Taken together, these developments should sound a red alert among our state’s policymakers.

Sources:
http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/tables/ACGR_RE_and_characteristics_2014-15.asp
http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/tables/ACGR_RE_and_characteristics_2013-14.asp
http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/tables/ACGR_RE_and_characteristics_2012-13.asp


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog

A new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spends just $1.35 on average per person per meal for households with children, yet lifts millions of families and their children out of poverty. Here are some other key findings of the report:

  • SNAP kept about 10.3 million people out of poverty in 2012, including about 4.9 million children. 
  • SNAP helps families put food on the table. Food insecurity — limited access to enough food for an active, healthy life — among children falls by roughly a third after their families receive SNAP benefits for six months. 
  • Some evidence suggests that children receiving SNAP are less likely than low-income non-participants to be in fair or poor health or underweight, and their families are less likely to trade off paying for health care and paying for other basic needs, like food, housing, heating, and electricity.
  • Children who receive SNAP do better in school. SNAP participation can lead to improvements in reading and mathematics skills among elementary children, especially young girls, and increase the chances of graduating from high school.
  • Adults who had access to SNAP as young children reported better health and had lower rates of “metabolic syndrome” (a combined measure of the incidence of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes), and women who had access to food stamps as young children reported improved economic self-sufficiency (as measured by a combination of employment, income, poverty status, high school graduation, and program participation).

For more information, see the complete report:

SNAP Works for America’s Children 


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog

state general funding per student lower than 2008 in 25 statesMost states, including Utah, provide less per-pupil funding for K-12 education now than they did before the 2008-2009 recession, according to a report titled, “Most States Have Cut School Funding, and Some Continue Cutting” by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Their findings echo those reported by Voices for Utah Children in the Utah Children’s Budget Report.

After the recession, property values dropped, making it hard for local school districts to raise significant revenue through local property taxes, but there was an “even steeper fall in state funding.” Meanwhile, the child population continued to grow.

The most recent data, for the 2016 school year, show that 25 states are offering less per-pupil general formula funding that in 2008. (General formula funding is the primary state funding source for schools.) In Utah, general formula funding per student has dropped by 9% since 2008. Only seven other states had a bigger drop in general formula funding than Utah.

But can’t we just do more with less? The authors point out that the data suggest otherwise:

“As common sense would suggest, money matters for educational outcomes. For instance, poor children who attend better-funded schools are more likely to complete high school and have higher earnings and lower poverty rates in adulthood.”


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

Published in News & Blog

The Secret of Utah’s Success

The secret of Utah’s success has long been our strong, hardworking families. For many of these families, the secret of their success has been the financial boost they get when they file their taxes, thanks to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

eitc bipartisan supportThe EITC was created under President Gerald R. Ford in 1975 as a way to support low-wage workers and their children. Its success in promoting work, independence, and family self-sufficiency has made it a bipartisan favorite. In 1986, the EITC was expanded by President Ronald Reagan as part of his historic Tax Reform Act, and every president since has improved and expanded it further. The results have been remarkable. In-depth studies have documented the EITC’s effects on both parents and children:

  • increased employment and earnings
  • reduced welfare dependency
  • improved maternal and child health
  • enhanced school performance, including high school graduation and college matriculation rates

The EITC’s success in helping families succeed has led 26 states to create their own versions of the EITC, and that number grows every year. State EITC legislation passed the Utah House of Representatives in 2013 and 2014, indicating how seriously Utah legislators are considering this proposal.

This booklet shares the stories of hardworking Utah families whose lives have been transformed by the EITC. About 200,000 Utah families receive the EITC every year, nearly 20% of all filers. These families include about 300,000 children. As you read their stories, imagine how many more families will see their lives improve and their children’s prospects expand once Utah creates our own state version of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Sharing Their Stories

Emily

Jennifer and Roger

Matt and Cheriee

Ada

Jackie

Davin and Shante

EITC Facts for Utah

Utah Mil Vets Infographic 2The federal Earned Income Tax Credit was created under President Ford and expanded by Presidents Reagan, Bush, and all subsequent presidents.

  • 204,000 Utah households received the federal EITC during 2015 for Tax Year 2014, about one in five tax filers.
  • Utah’s EITC households include about 200,000 workers and 300,000 children.
  • The EITC brought about $471 million into Utah’s economy in 2014.
  • Thousands of veterans and military families are helped, at a higher rate than the general population.
  • Were it not for the EITC, 67,000 more Utahns would have fallen into poverty in 2014, including 35,000 children. This would have raised Utah’s overall poverty rate by about 2.4 percentage points—about a one-quarter increase. For children, the increase would have amounted to 3.9 percentage points or a 40% increase in child poverty.

View the Complete Printer-Friendly Report:

pdfSharing Their Stories: How the EITC is Helping Utah Families Succeed

sharing their stories EITC


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

Published in News & Blog
September 19, 2016

The Race for 49th Place

Utah has been the state with the lowest per-pupil spending on K-12 education since 1988, but in 2015, when Voices for Utah Children released the Utah Children’s Budget Report, we found reason to hope. 

“The gap between Utah and Idaho has been closing steadily since 2010,” we reported. “If the current trend continues, Utah will displace Idaho in 49th place in the national rankings when new national data are released.” Reference A 

Although 49th place didn’t seem like too ambitious a goal to shoot for, a year later, we are sorry to report that we didn’t overtake Idaho for their prized 49th place ranking. Utah remains at 50th place in per-pupil K-12 education spending—51st, if you count Washington DC. Reference B 

There’s nowhere to go but up.


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog

This op-ed by Voices for Utah Children State Priorities Partnership Director Matthew Weinstein first appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune on June 18, 2016.

It is often said that Utah and Colorado are peer states, a pair of high-altitude economic powerhouses competing to attract the same growth-minded businesses and mobile workers in search of the best quality of life. What lessons can we learn from Colorado, and what can they learn from us?

The two states have many economic similarities — rapid growth, young populations, high household incomes, low poverty and unemployment rates, strong business climate rankings. But where do the similarities end? And which is better poised for stronger growth going forward? Our children's futures depend on being able to answer these questions and learn lessons from peer states like Colorado.

Earlier this month, Voices for Utah Children released the first half of our two-part comparison of Utah and Colorado, comparing the two states for 21 measures of economic opportunity. The results shed light on these questions and include a lot of good news for Utah, as well as some caution signs — and at least one "red alert" warning.

Utah ranks among the very best states in the nation for our low level of income inequality and high rate of intergenerational social mobility. A child growing up in a lower-income family in Utah has a better chance than elsewhere of making it into the middle class. This is thanks to a combination of factors, including our strong commitment to equalizing educational revenue among the wealthier and poorer areas of the state, our success at preventing geographic concentration of poverty, the highest rate of two-parent families in the nation, and our strong charitable and religious institutions that do such a great job of mobilizing volunteers to help neighbors in need.

While Colorado ranks more in the middle of the pack for income inequality and social mobility, our neighbor to the east shines when it comes to educational attainment, with one of the highest rates of bachelor's degrees in the nation. In 2014, 39.4 percent of Colorado adults age 25-64 had a bachelor's degree, nearly 8 points above the national average of 31.5 percent. For historical perspective, in 1990 Colorado's lead over the nation for bachelor's degrees was only 6.5 percentage points.

By this very important metric, unfortunately, Utah's trend is in the opposite direction. In 1990 we led the nation by 1.3 percentage points for bachelor's degrees. But our lead has been steadily diminishing since then, and in 2014, for the first time on record, Utah fell behind the nation for bachelor's degrees among adults age 25-64. Moreover, data for millennials — adults age 25-34 — indicate that this trend will only worsen in the years to come.

This is the red alert warning mentioned above. Falling behind on college degrees could have grave consequences for Utah's ability to grow good jobs and compete for high-wage industries in the years to come. We already lag far behind Colorado in worker productivity — by nearly $10,000 per worker — which is the economic basis for wages and standard of living.

If there is one glimmer of hope for Utah in the college comparison, it's that, even after all the budget cuts and tuition hikes of the last decade, we continue to invest more than Colorado in our public universities — $7,752 per student vs. $4,754. That helps keep tuition 35 percent lower in Utah than next door, though at $6,363 on average, it is still 37 percent higher than before the Great Recession.

But the investment edge that Utah enjoys in higher ed vanishes at the early end of public education. Not only do we invest less per pupil in K-12 than any other state, including Colorado, we are weakest when it comes to pre-K and kindergarten. Only 13 percent of our 4-year-olds attend public pre-school vs. three times that in Colorado. And a similar share attend full-day kindergarten here vs. 74 percent in Colorado.

And while we find good news in the 4th and 8th grade NAEP math and reading assessments, where Utah's performance jumped sharply to 14th place in 2015 from 23rd in 2013, we remain far behind when we adjust the scores for demographic differences. Our demographically-adjusted NAEP ranking only improved from 47th place to 44th, while Colorado fell from 12th to 22nd.

As Utah builds on our many assets and grapples with our challenges in the years to come, we believe this benchmarking information can contribute to understanding why we are succeeding and how we can ensure our continued success in the years and generations to come. 


Read the complete reports here:

A Comparative Look at Utah and Colorado:


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog