Child Care

In 2023, Utah introduced its own child tax credit (CTC) marking a positive step forward. However, the credit's limited scope falls short of providing real assistance to families raising young children. As we approach the 2024 legislative session, there is a crucial opportunity for lawmakers to make meaningful changes and expand the CTC to better serve Utah families.

The current $1,000 child tax credit is for families with children ages 1-3 with an income of $54,000 for a couple or $43,000 for a family with a single parent. Under the current child tax credit, 1.4% of families and 4.3% of children benefit. For those eligible, the average tax credit is $400.

Here's how expansion could impact families:

  Percent of Families Benefiting Percent of Children Benefiting Avg Tax Cut
(per eligible household)
Current Child Tax Credit 1.4% 4.3%  $400 
Original 2024 Legislative Proposal
HB 153 expands credit to 4- and 5-year-olds
2.9%  8.9%  $599 
Current 2024 Legislative Proposal
HB 153 2nd Substitute expands credit to 4-year-olds (and adds dangerous child care licensing changes)
1.8% 5.4% $456

Meaningful Expansion
Make credit available to low-income families (refundable) and children between birth and age five

7.2%  21.7%  $1,298 

Key Recommendations

  1. The credit should be available to families with children from birth to 5 years (adding newborns, 4-year-olds, and 5-year-olds). 
    The first five years of a child's life are the most financially demanding for parents. Diapers, clothing, formula, and child care costs create a significant burden. Expanding the credit to all children aged 0-5 acknowledges the unique financial challenges faced by families during these crucial early years.

  2. The credit should be refundable.
    Utah's current CTC is non-refundable, limiting its impact. Making the CTC refundable would mean that even if a family doesn’t owe income tax after credits and deductions, they could receive the credit through a tax refund. A refundable CTC ensures that low- and middle-income families—who pay sales and other taxes but have little or no income tax liability—can still benefit from the CTC. Because our current CTC is non-refundable, our analysis shows that currently, no families receive the full $1,000/per child benefit. Eleven of the 14 states with a child tax credit have structured their CTCs to be refundable. If a family makes more than a certain amount of money, they can still claim this tax credit, but it is phased out based on household income. 

What are elected officials considering this year for child tax credit expansion?

For the 2024 legislative session, Representative Susan Pulsipher has introduced legislation making 4- and 5-year-old children eligible for the CTC, therefore expanding the age range to children ages 1-5 (but still excluding newborns). Governor Spencer Cox’s proposed budget also advocates for this change.

While we support this first step, we strongly recommend a more comprehensive, impactful approach. We recommend making the tax credit available for families with any child between birth and age five. Additionally, the CTC should be made refundable, ensuring that all families receive the full benefit of $1,000/per child. This expansion would create more substantial financial relief for families.

With the CTC’s current limitations, this tax credit is not functioning as a genuine support for families bearing the cost of raising young children. By making the credit refundable and extending eligibility to cover children ages 0-5, the state has the opportunity to create a more meaningful child tax credit that aligns with the financial realities faced by families.

NOTE: As of January 25th, there has been a damaging change to HB 153. An adopted substitute includes dangerous changes to child care quality expectations, allowing unlicensed people to watch even more kids without safety training or home inspections. This step backward is bad for kids, does nothing to solve our child care issues in Utah, and absolutely should not be wedged into a Child Tax Credit bill. Read about why we oppose this bill here. 

Learn more about Utah's Child Tax Credit here 

 

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Representative Susan Pulsipher’s HB 153 was initially aimed at providing tax relief for families with young children through an expanded state child tax credit. Originally, the bill aimed to extend the child tax credit eligibility from ages one to three to ages one to five. We considered this original bill to be a top Voices for Utah Children priority. Unfortunately, during the session the bill was hijacked and an adopted substitute now adds a damaging provision allowing unlicensed child care providers to look after up to 8 children without safety training or home inspections.

While we appreciate the expanded background check measures and child ratio requirement for children under 3 for unlicensed providers, the bill lacks enforcement provisions for those operating without checks or failing them, as well as for existing unlicensed providers.

Why We Oppose HB 153 S03

This change jeopardizes the safety of Utah children by permitting unlicensed providers, without CPR and First Aid training or home inspections, to care for more children without oversight. This bill does not increase capacity for licensed family child care providers, rather, it specifically allows unlicensed individuals to watch more children.

Addressing child care licensing standards within a tax code bill is inappropriate. While expanding Utah’s Child Tax Credit was a key priority, it does not belong in the same bill that seeks to lower standards for child care quality.

Utah has seen previous attempts to increase the number of children allowed in unlicensed care. In 2021, HB 271 attempted to increase the number of children an unregulated provider could care for from 4 to 6. While it failed, it resurfaced in 2022 under HB 15, passing despite extensive opposition from providers and child safety groups, including Voices for Utah Children. HB 153 S03 takes this effort a step further by increasing the number of children from 6 to 8.

Why HB 153 S03 is Dangerous

This proposal disempowers parents, grandparents, foster parents, and working adults seeking safe child care options for their children. The lack of oversight and transparency in under-the-radar child care puts families in a precarious position, unable to access vital information about providers (e.g. verified background checks, safety violations and complaints, and guaranteed levels of basic safety training). While we appreciate the added provisions requiring background checks for unlicensed providers, the bill lacks enforcement and does not specify whether background check results will be available to the public.

Homeowners insurance doesn't cover providers caring for more than four unrelated children, and providers cannot access outside liability insurance without a license, leaving parents with minimal legal recourse if their child is hurt, injured, or killed while in care.

This change would solidify Utah’s place as the second-worst state nationally in this aspect, with only South Dakota allowing higher unregulated care capacity. If Utah is supposed to be a state that is good for kids and families, this bill sets us back. 

Why HB 153 S03 Doesn’t Help Fix the Child Care Crisis

Many child care experts predict that this change would actually decrease the supply of available child care in Utah. This proposal could incentivize some programs to reduce their size and drop their licenses, leaving fewer families with access to any care. 

Many proposals have been made to address Utah’s child care crisis, but lowering standards for the people who care for children is not, and should not be, one of them. This is not requested or supported by early care and learning professionals and experts. Parents seek easier access to good, affordable child care with certainty that their children are safe, happy, healthy, and learning. Parents and providers want the state to prioritize the well-being of Utah’s children, rather than advancing simplified policy proposals that divert attention from the genuine problem-solving needed to address the child care crisis.

What About Supporting the Child Tax Credit?

Although HB 153 was initially one of our priority pieces of legislation, the recent licensing changes have led us to withdraw our support for this bill. Originally, the bill only made incremental expansions to the child tax credit, but with the adoption of the third substitute, eligibility for 5-year-olds was removed, effectively cutting the expansion in half. Our analysis indicates that HB 153 S03 will only extend the credit to 0.4% more families, which is insufficient. The proposed changes to childcare licensing are concerning and not worth the marginal increase in tax credit eligibility. Voices for Utah Children believes it's preferable to either revert to the original bill or forego its passage entirely. Moving forward, we will focus on advocating for a more comprehensive child tax credit without compromising on childcare safety standards.

Note: HB 153 passed on February 29, 2024. For more information on this complex bill we created an FAQ to address questions about the passed bill and explain its significant implications.

FAQs on HB 153: Child Care Revisions

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As we entered the 2024 session, supporting families with young children remained a top policy priority of Voices for Utah Children. At the forefront of our advocacy efforts is the urgent need to address the critical child care needs of these families.

We worked closely with several legislators to propose much-needed public investment in the child care sector. We also supported multiple early care and education bills that were championed by other legislators and organizations. Here's what passed (and what didn't):

Child Care Priorities

HB 461: Child Care Grant Amendments, Rep. Ashlee Matthews & Sen. Luz Escamilla
This bill makes child care workers eligible for child care subsidies regardless of income, mirroring Kentucky's successful initiative. This helps child care owners cover the costs of providing a child care benefit and helps staff keep more of their paycheck. However, its enactment is contigent on federal funding approval, delaying implementation until that is secured. Initially, this bill also created the Child Care Workers Wage Supplement Grant Program, to help child care providers maintain a $15/hour wage for their staff, once stabilization grants end. Unfortunately, this provision was removed through an amendment. Eliminating the wage program and tying subsidy eligibility to federal funding made the bill cost-free for the state. Despite our disappointment with the continued lack of public investment in the child care sector, we remain optimistic about its potential positive impact, estimated to benefit 2,200 parents employed in child care.
Position: SUPPORT
Outcome: AMENDED VERSION PASSED

HB 541: Child Care Grants Amendments, Rep. Andrew Stoddard
This bill would extend Utah’s current child care stabilization grant program, funded at 50% of the original grant size, for another two years as an emergency stopgap measure. The proposal aimed to address Utah's impending loss of over $400M in expiring federal funds allocated for the child care sector. With the $240M cost, we did not anticipate its passage. Still, we hoped for a hearing where parents and providers could share their thoughts on the program and how they have been impacted by the dwindling funding. Despite the bill not advancing, we were pleased the federal funding cliff received significant media attention during the session. 
Position: SUPPORT
Outcome: BILL NEVER HEARD IN COMMITTEE

HB 153: Child Care Revisions, Rep. Susan Pulsipher & Sen. Dan McCay
Originally, this bill sought to expand Utah’s new and very limited
Child Tax Credit to allow families to claim a tax benefit for any child aged one to five. Unfortunately, the bill took an unexpected turn when a substitute version was adopted, introducing a dangerous provision raising the cap on the number of children unlicensed providers can care for from six to eight. In response to strong objections from the child care community over safety issues, new regulations were introduced for unlicensed providers, marking the first time such measures have been implemented. These include mandatory background checks and limits on caring for more than two children under 3 years old. We anxiously await information on how the Department of Health and Human Services will enforce these provisions. Additionally, an amendment passed on the House floor that scaled back the child tax credit expansion to only cover 4-year-olds, effectively halving its impact. This modified expansion will extend the credit to a marginal 0.4% more families, benefiting 1.1% more children, with an average annual tax savings of $456 per eligible family. While the child tax credit was initially a top priority of Voices for Utah Children, the dangerous child care licensing provisions led us to change our position and advocate against the bill. For more information on this complex bill, check out our HB 153 FAQs Blog.
Position: OPPOSE
Outcome: AMENDED VERSION PASSED 

Other Child Care Legislation & Funding Requests

SB 220: School Readiness Grant Program Modernization, Sen. Ann Millner & Rep. Katy Hall
This bill will streamline and improve the state’s current High Quality School Readiness (HQSR) program, Utah's preschool program, by cleaning up the governing code. Promise Partnership Utah, our partner organization, led out on this bill. 
Position: SUPPORT
Outcome: PASSED 

School Readiness Grant Program Funding, Rep. Katy Hall
This funding request sought $6M in ongoing funds for the School Readiness Program, as demand for the program is higher than funds allow. Promise Partnership Utah, our partner organization, led out on this funding request.
Position: SUPPORT
Outcome: NOT FUNDED

SB 176: Child Care Services Amendments, Sen. Luz Escamilla & Rep. Robert Spendlove
This bill would have created a Salt Lake County pilot project to retrofit empty state-owned buildings for child care facilities. With the goal of creating a public-private partnership solution for child care, local employers would have worked with child care providers to offer care to their employees in the facilities. Under the proposal, 60% of the child care slots would be designated for the business's employees, while the remaining 40% would be reserved for children from low-income families, state employees, and military families. This bill was supported by the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity. The bill passed unanimously through the Senate, but unexpectedly failed in the House on the final days of the session.
Position: SUPPORT
Outcome: FAILED

HB 96: Child Care Program Sales Tax Exemption, Rep. Christine Watkins
This bill would allow for a sales and use tax exemption for construction materials used to construct or expand a child care program.
Position: SUPPORT
Outcome: BILL NEVER HEARD IN COMMITTEE

Advocacy

While we anticipated a challenging session for child care advocacy, there are still significant achievements to celebrate!

We hosted four Child Care Champion Lobby Days and a Child Care Advocacy Day hosting nearly 100 parents, providers, and kiddos to the Capitol Rotunda. With the help of our partners, we facilitated over 40 constituent meetings with legislators, and sent over 2,000 emails to lawmakers advocating for child care support! With our partners at Neighborhood House, we released an open letter with 140 businesses, philanthropists, and community members calling on the legislature to address the child care crisis. Furthermore, our advocacy efforts garnered more media coverage than ever before, bringing attention to child care issues across the state. 

Our efforts to educate lawmakers on the importance of child care licensing, led to more nuanced discussions about child care than ever before. Thanks to the invaluable contributions of parents and child care providers who testified or contacted legislators, lawmakers undoubtedly know more about child care than they did 45 days ago.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to child care advocacy efforts during the 2024 Legislative Session! Also a special shout out to our partners, Utah Care for Kids, Promise Partnership Utah, United Way of Salt Lake, Utah Private Child Care Association, Utah Professional Family Child Care Association, YWCA Utah, Utah Afterschool Network, UAEYC, Early Childhood Alliance, Neighborhood House, Bolder Way Forward Child Care Spoke, Utah Community Builders and The Salt Lake Chamber, Powerful Moms Who Care, Community Change, MomsRising, and the countless parents and providers who made time in their busy schedules to advocate for child care. 

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BROAD COALITION CALLS FOR INVESTMENT IN UTAH’S FUTURE RATHER THAN TAX CUTS, DOCUMENTS $5.6 BILLION IN URGENT UNMET NEEDS

Salt Lake City – On Monday, January 23, 2023 at the Utah State Capitol, a broad and diverse coalition of advocates for the poor, for disabled Utahns, for education, health care, clean air, the Great Salt Lake, transportation investment, and a variety of other popular Utah priorities held a press conference calling on the Utah Legislature to prioritize addressing Utah’s long and growing list of unmet needs over permanent tax cuts that undermine our long-term capacity to invest in Utah’s future.

Utah’s strong economy and rapid recovery from the pandemic, combined with the ongoing impact of federal spending, have generated unexpected state revenues amounting to a reported $3.3 billion available for FY2024. These revenues put Utah in a position to address chronic revenue shortages that have plagued numerous areas of state responsibility. Instead, state leaders have proposed roughly half a billion dollars in permanent tax cuts, tilted unfairly toward the high end of the income scale, as well as additional hundreds of billions in one-time tax breaks.   

These new proposed permanent tax cuts would be over and above the roughly $4 billion that the Legislature has already cut from annual revenues in recent decades, leaving Utah’s taxes at their lowest level in half a century, relative to incomes.

4b tax cuts since 1985 CANVA 2048x1381

In response, today the Invest in Utah’s Future coalition presented a list of urgent unmet needs amounting to $5.6 billion, over $2 billion more than the amount of the “surplus” revenues.

The advocates also pointed out that, according to data from the Utah State Tax Commission and the Utah Foundation, taxes in Utah are the lowest that they have been in decades, following repeated rounds of tax cutting. “Of course we all like paying lower taxes, but at a certain point we have to ask ourselves: Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Are we, as the current generation of Utahns, meeting our responsibility, as earlier generations did, to set aside sufficient resources every year to invest in our children, in our future, in the foundations of the next generation’s prosperity and quality of life?” said Matthew Weinstein of Voices for Utah Children.

Speakers also referenced public opinion surveys by the Deseret News and Hinckley Institute that found that only 25% of Utahns support tax cutting over investing in Utah’s future, consistent with other polls done in recent years by the same organizations as well as by Envision Utah and the Utah Foundation.

Here is the list of urgent unmet needs that Utah has not been able to address due to the state’s chronic revenue shortages:

 Budget Area Amount Details Contacts
 K-12: Reduce class sizes from 29 to 15  $1.1 billion ($612m K-6 only)  

Reduce class sizes/improve student/teacher ratio below the current Utah average of 29 (vs national average of 24) to optimum class size of 15.

Utah Education Association Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain
 K-12: Paraeducators   $312 million  

Expand paraeducators to all Utah elementary classrooms.

Utah Education Association Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain
 K-12: Increase school counselors   $130 million  Increase school counselors per student to the national standard optimum of 1:250. Utah’s current ratio is 1:648, compared to the national average of 1:455.    Utah Education Association Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain
 K-12: school psychologists, social workers and special ed teachers  $285 million Increase student access to school psychologists, social workers and special ed teachers. 

Current and optimal ratios are: 

School psychologists: Now 1:1950/Optimal 1:500

Social workers: Now 1:3000/Optimal 1:250

Special ed teachers: Now 1:35/Optimal 1:25
Utah Education Association Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain
 K-12 Education: reduce teacher attrition and shortages  $500-600 million  Envision Utah estimates that we need to invest an additional $500-600 million each year just to reduce teacher turnover, where we rank among the worst in the nation. Our leaders’ unwillingness to solve our education underinvestment problem is why the majority-minority gaps in Utah’s high school graduation rates are worse than nationally and our younger generation of adults (age 25-34) have fallen behind their counterparts nationally for educational attainment at the college level (BA/BS+).   
 K-12 School Nurses  $78.5 million The Utah Dept of Health annual report “Nursing Services in Utah Public Schools 2021-22” found that it would cost $78.5m to hire an additional 785 nurses so as to have one nurse in every public school building. There are currently only 261 nurse FTEs in Utah’s public schools, a ratio of 1 nurse for every 2,583 students. One nurse in every building would improve that ratio to 1:644, which would still be worse than the national average.
https://heal.health.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/2022-Nursing-services-in-Utah-Public-schools-8-22-22-ADA.pdf
 Dr. William Cosgrove, Past-President, American Academy of Pediatrics – Utah
 Full Day Kindergarten  $70 million  Gov. Cox is proposing $70 million in the FY24 budget to make full-day Kindergarten available to all Utah families who would choose to opt in to it.  Voices for Utah Children Anna Thomas
Child Care $236 million

$236 million is needed to continue stabilizing the child care industry as federal funds are depleted. This funding will allow for the continuation of child care stabilization grants, retention incentives for early childhood professionals, the coverage of licensing-related fees in order to lessen the barriers to expanding, maintaining, and opening new child care programs, and regional child care outreach grants for rural and urban child care deserts.

Source: www.utahcareforkids.org/get-involved/2023-legislation

Jenna Williams  

Pre-K and Child Care $1 billion Well over $1 billion is one estimate for a much needed comprehensive system of early childhood care and education (pre-k) in Utah.  
Afterschool Programs $3.6 million Utah’s 303 afterschool programs serve 43,000 kids but still leave 99,000 unsupervised every day after school. During the 2021 “21st Century Community Learning Center” grant competition in Utah, $1,062,816 was available and there was $4.6 million in requests, indicating a $3.6 million funding gap. Utah Afterschool Network Director Ben Trentelman 
Health Insurance: Children: Cover All Kids $5 million It would cost Utah about $5 million to remove barriers to health insurance coverage so that all Utah kids can access health insurance. Utah currently ranks last in the nation for covering the one-in-six Utah kids who are Latinx and in the bottom 5 states for all children. Source: Voices for Utah Children and www.100percentkids.health Voices for Utah Children Ciriac Alvarez Valle

Health Insurance:

New parents
$10 million

HB 84 would cost $3m to extend post-partum Medicaid coverage for new parents from the current 60 days to one year.

HB 85 would cost $7m to extend Medicaid coverage to pregnant women with household incomes up to 200% of poverty level.
Voices for Utah Children Ciriac Alvarez Valle
 Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder Treatment Uncertain 

Utah ranks last in the nation for mental health treatment access, according to a 2019 report from the Gardner Policy Institute.

2020 report from the Legislative Auditor General found that Utah’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative had failed to achieve its goal to reduce recidivism -- and actually saw recidivism rise -- in part because “both the availability and the quality of the drug addiction and mental health treatment are still inadequate.” (pg 51)

Amounts not determined to address large gaps in workforce capacity, but two bills this year are:  

HB 66: $11m for additional Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams and 2 additional Receiving Centers in rural parts of Utah

HB 248: $5m for additional Assertive Community Treatment Teams
 
 Disability Services  $31 million

The DSPD disability services waiting list has more than doubled in the last decade from 1,825 people with disabilities in 2011 to 4,427 in 2021. The FY20 $1 million one-time appropriation made it possible to provide services to 143 people from the waiting list, implying that it could cost $31 million to eliminate the waiting list entirely. 

In the 2022 session, the Legislature added $6 million in ongoing and $3 million in one-time money to shorten the disabilities waiting list. This year, Rep. Ward is sponsoring HB 242 to dedicate additional base budget funding to reduce the waitlist by 200 people each year.
 Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities – Jan Ferre  
 Rural Utah Economic Development $20 million   Rural Utahns should not feel that they need to abandon their home communities and add to the growth pressures along the Wasatch Front in order to provide for their families. Rural economic development would benefit all Utahns and reduce disparities between the Wasatch Front and other areas of the state. $20 million was one estimate for funding for economic development projects like the San Rafael Energy Research Center (Emery County) and renewable energy projects around Beaver County, both serving areas where primary jobs such as Smithfield Foods have left recently, and renewable energy projects have the potential to stabilize county economies.   Community Action Partnership of Utah - Stefanie Jones and Clint Cottam –  
 Reduce/Eliminate Benefits Cliffs  Uncertain  The existing benefits cliffs in many public anti-poverty programs – where public assistance disappears suddenly rather than phasing out gradually when someone gets a raise or takes a new, higher-paying job – act as an unintended obstacle to the efforts of low-income people to work their way out of poverty.   Circles Salt Lake – Kelli Parker
 Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Services  

$310 million

OR

$68 million
 

Our economy incurs steep economic costs as a result of sexual and domestic violence. The Center for Disease Control estimates that over a lifetime the costs for a female survivor are $103,762 and for a male survivor $23,414. These include medical costs, loss of employment or interruption of paid work, criminal justice system costs, among others. A coalition of victim service providers and state agencies estimates the annual funding needed as $310 million ongoing to meet standard of care for all victims of domestic and sexual violence OR $68 million ongoing to fund the most basic level of services at only the current level of demand for services.

Erin Jemison, Director of Public Policy, Utah Domestic Violence Coalition (UDVC)
 Housing  $346 million per year for 10 years  

Among extremely low-income renter households, 71% pay more than 50% of their income for housing, which is considered a severe housing burden. $346 million per year of state funding over the next decade will make it possible to build affordable housing  statewide for people earning less than 50% AMI, based on a state cost share of $80,000 per unit, and Utah is short 43,253 units.

For more information on the current and ongoing needs visit https://nlihc.org/gap/state/ut 

Utah Housing Coalition

Tara Rollins  
 Housing for Seniors  $67.5 million  

$37.5 million a year for 10 years will fund rehabilitation of 500 units per year at a cost of $75,000 per unit. If we don’t fund preservation of affordable housing for seniors we will lose valuable units.

$30 million per year will make available rental gap funding of $500 per month for 5,000 units so that seniors can afford to stay in their rented units.

https://www.utahhousing.org/preserving-senior-affordable-housing-report.html 

https://nyuds.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=b8318f874017488ea9bdd51a296e59ef for senior housing report
Utah Housing Coalition Director Tara Rollins
 Homeless Services  $154 million 

$100m in one-time funds to produce 2,000 units of deeply affordable housing

$19m ongoing for tax credits and housing trust fund

$5m to the housing trust fund to produce 1,000 new units of affordable housing over the next 10 years

$30m one-time for projects to eliminate unsheltered homelessness for families with children: The total number of people needing emergency shelter services in Utah increased by 14% in 2022.  For families with children the increase was 33%.  This is why, for the first time in over 20 years, families with children were turned away from the family shelter in Midvale during the months of September, October and November of last year because there were not enough beds to meet the need.  $30 million would help purchase a motel to convert into a second family shelter and purchase land that can be dedicated to produce mixed income housing developments that include permanent supportive housing for families with children headed by parents with disabling conditions that have been homeless for six or more months.
 

Coalition of Religious Communities - Bill Tibbitts

 Air Quality in Schools $5 million  Funding to continue the successful implementation of this year’s federally-funded program placing air purifiers in every classroom in Utah, which will reduce the risks both from COVID and from Utah’s air pollution and is expected to result in improved school performance, even more than standard interventions such as reducing class size by 30%, or “high dose” tutoring. (Source: Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment) UPHE Director Jonny Vasic -
 Air Quality: Promote Transit $25.5 million  

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) experienced an increase in ridership during Free Fare February in 2022. Tens of thousands of riders, including many new to public transit, enjoyed the services, and stress on our transportation system and environment was lessened.

Governor Cox’s Budget Recommendations for FY24 includes a $25 million, one-year pilot for statewide zero-fare transit. This pilot would include the state’s three transit systems that are not currently zero-fare: Cedar Area Transportation System, SunTran, and the Utah Transit Authority. The governor also recommends $500,000 for a zero fare transit study to analyze the impacts of the pilot.

During Free Fare February, 87% of entities that subsidize UTA fares for their users continued paying subsidies to help enable the zero fare period. The Governor’s proposal calls on UTA fare subsidy partners to continue paying subsidies for their users during this one-year pilot period to cover $13.1 million in additional costs.

This pilot will provide Utah families price relief to help offset the burden of gasoline prices, gasoline tax indexing, and inflation, while also allowing researchers to analyze factors related to permanent decisions about zero fare transit

Steve Erickson -

 Improve UTA transit service   $175.6 million

$10.9m to match UTA projections to fully supplement free fares for a year. (In all, UTA projected $35.9 in fare revenue for 2023)

$3.5 million to address UTA’s driver shortage ($20/hr*2,080 hours*60 operators + 40% for benefits, taxes, etc.)

$30,000 to match CATS (Cedar City’s transit system) to fully supplement free fares for a year based on budget projections.

$136,000 to match SunTran (St. George’s transit system) to fully supplement free fares for a year based on budget projections.

$159 million to clear UTA’s debt to free UTA to expand and improve service.

$2 million to fund a matching grant from the federal government to study the feasibility of a passenger rail route connecting Boise to Las Vegas via Salt Lake and points in between.
 Curtis Haring, Utah Transit Riders Union    
 Hunger $1 million  It is clear that the state needs to do more in providing funding and other resources to help support local community food pantries. Utahns Against Hunger – Gina Cornia –
 Utah EITC  $57 million  Last year Utah became the 31st state with our own Earned Income Tax Credit, but we're one of the few who make it non-refundable, even though over 85% of the value of the federal EITC -- and the key to its poverty-reducing and workforce-enhancing power -- is its refundability. In 2022 under Gov. Youngkin, Virginia made their state EITC refundable. ITEP analysis shows 71% goes to the lowest-earning quintile and nearly all to the lower-income half of Utahns.   Voices for Utah Children – Matthew Weinstein –  
Gov. Cox’s proposed refundable tax credit   $54 million  Utah's Taxpayer Tax Credit shields most low-income workers from the income tax, which is a good thing because it makes our overall tax system less regressive. Now Gov. Cox is proposing to make it even better by making up to $250 of this credit refundable.  Drew Cooper, United Today Stronger Tomorrow
Eliminate the sales tax on unprepared food $200 million The food tax is the most regressive tax. One-third of it is paid by the lowest-income half of Utah households, who earn less than a sixth of all Utah income. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, low-income families pay 36% of their income on food while higher-income families spend only 8%. This is why 37 states do not charge any sales tax on food. Drew Cooper, United Today Stronger Tomorrow
Save the Great Salt Lake $333 million Gov. Cox is proposing $133m in new resources to save the Great Salt Lake and $200 million to help reduce water waste in agriculture. Source: www.sltrib.com/news/2022/12/30/dear-legislature-heres-2023/ Utah Rivers Council –Matt Berry
Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as it relates to undocumented Utahns   Our public fiscal policies – how we generate and expend public investment dollars – have a direct impact on whether we are widening or narrowing the gaps between different groups in Utah. The Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion must be more than just words on a page. slchamber.com/public-policy/utah-compact In particular, Utah is home to 95,000 undocumented men, women, and children. They work hard and pay taxes and need and deserve access to the same public services as every other Utahn. Comunidades Unidas – Brianna Puga –
The economic case against tax cuts   Tax cuts are usually enacted to provide additional stimulus to the economy. Given our very low unemployment rate, along with ongoing inflationary pressures, now is not really the right time for new economic stimulus. The future is uncertain – some economists expect we may face a recession in the coming year, though there’s a wide variety of opinions about the likely timing and severity of such a possible event. Additional tax cuts right now won’t do much to affect that. However, investing now in the many unmet needs we face, particularly in the areas of water and climate, education, child-care, and the many other needs listed here this morning, will put us in a better position to thrive whatever the coming years bring us in terms of economic conditions. Univ. of Utah Economics Prof. Thomas Maloney PhD

 TOTAL

 

$5.6 billion – over $2b more than the amount of "surplus" revenue for FY2024

 

 

 The press conference was broadcast live on Facebook: https://fb.watch/ieyT_0Zi14/?mibextid=RUbZ1f 

INVEST press conf FB screenshot

Media coverage: 

 Additional one-pagers distributed by some of the coalition members: 

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Kids Count Utah: A Data Book on the Measures of Child Well-Being in Utah, 2021 is the first glance at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Utah’s children. Please click on the button below for the full report. 

2021 UTAH KIDS COUNT DATA BOOK

Children under the age of 18 make up a third of the state’s population. Not surprisingly, Utah children and their families faced additional challenges as a result of living through a global pandemic.

Unfortunately, over 10 percent of Utah children are experiencing poverty. Additionally, since 2019 Utah saw an increase of over 4,000 additional children considered to be in Intergenerational Poverty (IGP). More children caught in a cycle of IGP is concerning as it could mean that their own children may continue that same cycle if their economic situation does not improve.

Providing a quality education to children during the pandemic continues to be a challenge. The most recent data shows that student proficiency assessment results decreased over the past year. And data also shows that many children are not receiving the mental health treatment they need. A new data indicator shared in the 2021 data book looked at access to mental health. The data collected from the National Survey of Children’s Health shows that approximately 60% of three- to 17-year-olds struggling with mental health are not receiving treatment.

Voices for Utah Children hopes that the yearly KIDS COUNT data book project and the publication of Measuring of Child Well-Being in Utah continues to be a valuable resource that can provide guidance to both policymakers and the general public on how to improve the lives and futures of Utah children.

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Children’s Budget Report Finds Utah Is Spending More On Children Than Ever Before, But Education Funding Effort Is At A Record Low

Salt Lake City, December 9, 2021 - Voices for Utah Children, the state’s leading children’s policy advocacy organization, released its biennial Children's Budget Report.  The report, published every other year, measures how much (before and after inflation) the state invests every year in Utah’s children by dividing all state programs concerning children (which add up to about half of the overall state budget) into seven categories, without regard to their location within the structure of state government. The seven categories are as follows, in descending order by dollar value (adding state and federal funds together):

breakdown p1state pie

breakdown p2fed pie

Public investment in children should be understood as a central component of Utah’s economic development strategy.  Examining how much Utah invests in children can help the state evaluate whether it is maximizing the potential of our future workforce through our investment in human capital. 

This is especially important given the rapid demographic changes taking place in our state. The 2020 Census found that 30% of Utahns under 18 are members of a racial or ethnic minority (almost one-third of our future workforce), compared to just 24% in 2010. The investments we make today in reducing racial and ethnic gaps among Utah’s children will enable the state to thrive and prosper for generations to come

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Report highlights are as follows
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good ok bad

Good News: Utah is investing more in the next generation now than ever before, both overall and on a per-child basis

spending per kid

Not-so-good News: The non-K-12 Education portion of the Children’s Budget peaked on a per-child basis in FY 2016 and has fallen since then by 2%

non educ spend per kid

Bad News: Utah’s education funding effort continues to fall to record low levels

 educ fund hist

Additional Trends: Changes in Funding by Source 

overall graph

Trends in Education Funding: UT beat ID for 49th place, still far behind US overall 

us ut funding

UTIDGap

 MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE CHILDREN'S BUDGET REPORT:

Facebook Live Event presenting the 2021 Children's Budget Report, major findings and summaries of all the categories of funding that impact children in Utah.  https://fb.watch/9O05ECPAHi/

 KSL: https://www.ksl.com/article/50308739/utah-children-drowning-in-unmet-needs-according-to-new-budget-report?utm_source=Salt+Lake+Tribune&utm_campaign=93649b5bb5-rundown_12_10_2021&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc2415ff28-93649b5bb5-45560674

KRCL: https://krcl.org/blog/radioactive-110821/ 

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