Herbert hails education funding 'deal;' disabled community left out of talks

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Herbert hails education funding 'deal;' disabled community left out of talks. (KUTV)

It’s a two-pronged tax reform plan that might pass muster with voters—a “deal” that would mean automatic increases in education funding every year, but allow income tax money that now goes only to public and higher ed to be used for other purposes.

Governor Herbert in an interview with 2News after the announcement said:

This is a great day because it’s going to provide some consistent funding for education for years to come.

The deal would automatically boost education spending for growth and enrollment, but UEA President Heidi Matthews said negotiators “did not let perfect” get in the way of a good deal for schools. Matthews gave the governor a post-announcement hug on Wednesday while acknowledging the plan is shy on details.

As part of the package, there’s an ed funding “stabilization” bill, and then a proposed constitutional amendment, to be decided by voters, that would use income tax revenue not only for education, but also for “children and individuals with disabilities.”

“Does it have to pass at the ballot box for the rest of this to fall into place?“ 2News asked the governor.

“It does, that’s why it was important to get everybody on board,” he replied.

But an advocate for people with disabilities said the plan was new to him, when the outlines of it surfaced last week—the second last week of the session.

Andrew Riggle said the disabled community was not involved in crafting the deal—though the disabled could be beneficiaries of it. An attorney for the Disability Law Center said that organization was also not part of discussions.

“The disability community and the children’s community, as a whole, should’ve been made aware,” Riggle said, “and given an opportunity to provide input.“

It’s unknown how much new money could go to people with disabilities in the state, but the Utah Department of Human Services said more than 3,500 disabled people are on a waiting list for assistance—many for in home care—and some have been waiting for years.