Utah business leaders launch "Our Schools Now" campaign to improve student performance

Prominent business and community leaders, committed to improving education in Utah, launched a ballot initiative campaign on Tuesday at Washington Elementary School in Salt Lake City. The initiative, Our Schools Now, hopes to provide a framework to improve outcomes in education and the mechanism to fund these improvements.

According to their news release, this campaign is urgently needed because budget decisions over the last 20 years are now leaving public education with $1.6 billion less every year. This has created teacher shortages and the lowest per-pupil spending in the country, hurting student learning and academic performance. On KVNU’s For the People program on Tuesday, Bob Marquardt of the group talked about how this got started.

“Well it’s actually been in the works for a number of years. This came out of the organization Education First, of which I am one of the co-chairs. We’ve been active for seven or eight years now to try and work with the state legislature and the governor to improve education in Utah, to improve outcomes. There’s never been a time when education has a bigger impact on our economy and our economic future than it does today,” explained Marquardt.

The initiative calls for a seven-eighths-of-one-percent increase in the Utah Personal Income Tax to strengthen education funding.

Others on-board in promoting this initiative include Zions Bank President & C.E.O. Scott Anderson, Lane Beattie of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller group of companies.

Over the next five months, advocates for Our Schools Now plan to solicit input throughout the state to explain the campaign and gather local feedback to draft the initiative. For more information visit www.ourschoolsnow.com.

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