ELECTION 2018: Utah voters to weigh in on increased fuel tax for education use
September 19, 2018
Voters throughout Utah will weigh in this fall on whether they would be willing to pay more at the pump to support schools.
The state now collects 29.4 cents per gallon on fuel purchases to help cover transportation costs. A portion of revenue from the state’s general fund – $600 million annually – also is applied to roads.
Nonbinding Opinion Question 1 will ask voters about putting general fund money ordinarily reserved for road use instead towards education. Specifically, the question will be used to gauge support for a 10-cent increase in the state’s fuel tax to help cover costs to increase salaries for teachers and support staff.
The increase is estimated to raise $180 million in the first full budget year.
A portion of new revenues – $55 million – also would be applied to local roads.
Gov. Gary Herbert said the revenue boost could nearly triple the amount of education spending in the state over the next five years.
Approval at the ballot would greenlight the Utah Legislature to pursue passage of legislation to increase the state’s fuel tax.
If enacted, the Herbert administration says the fuel tax increase would raise an estimated $125 million for education in the first year and reach $375 million annually in 2023.
“I believe that the people of Utah want to invest more into education,” Herbert said in previous remarks. “And I believe that the people of Utah believe that they should pay their fair share.”
Critics say legislators should instead look at more efficient ways to allocate resources already available to the state.
To help minimize the hit to Utah residents’ pocketbooks, state property taxes would be frozen for the next five years.