Hatch giving an ‘APPLE’ to Utah teachers
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has proposed the Action Plan for Public Land Education (APPLE) Act in attempt to give additional funding to Utah schools.
The legislation he introduced last Thursday is a companion bill to legislation introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah).
APPLE would allow five-percent of Federal land in certain western states to be held put in a trust that could be sold or leased, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to public education. In a press release issued last week Hatch expressed some concern that Utah is at a disadvantage because a large percentage of the Beehive State is federal land, land that could potentially be a source of tax revenue.
"Utah simply can’t generate the revenue it needs for education with so much of its land tied up by the Federal government," Hatch said. "Congressman Bishop’s bill strikes the right balance. He’s a former high school teacher who knows Utah’s education system like the back of his hand. Rob worked for years with local and state leaders to come up with a plan that helps states profit from their public lands and channel those profits to their schools."
The senator became concerned when he saw a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau that said Utah is last in the nation when it comes to per-pupil spending. The national average comes in at $8,280 while Utah spends $5,008.
"Rob’s caught some momentum in the House with this bill, and I’ve always been supportive of his efforts. After the recent report from U.S. Census Bureau that Utah remains last in per-pupil funding, I decided it was time to get the discussion started in the Senate," Hatch said.
In the press release Hatch added, "Sales tax comes from private lands, and Utah just doesn’t have enough of it," Hatch said. "The state’s top priority is education, and that’s clear by how much of its budget goes toward education. The Federal government can, and should, help by opening up some of its public land to raise revenues for Western states."
Park City School District Superintendent Dave Adamson said he agrees that Utah is at a disadvantage in not being able to generate tax revenue he noted the situation is very different in PCSD.
"Park City is in a better place than most other school districts because of our strong property tax base," Adamson said.
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