"For bedroom communities in particular, that has reduced the yield from the property tax for the statewide education system," he said. "The buying power is reduced even though the costs of educating are increasing."
Stephenson's bill, SB255, would freeze the tax rate through 2022, allowing schools to capture the revenue generated by increases in property values. Based on current trends, the freeze would generate roughly $20 million in its first year and continue to grow until 2022.
Stephenson, president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, originally proposed capping the income tax revenue diverted to higher education from elementary, middle and high schools. But he agreed to substitute his bill after the income tax cap was coldly received by members of the Senate Education Committee.
His substitute earned the unanimous approval of the committee after a provision was eliminated that would have given the Utah Board of Education discretion over how the additional funding is spent.
"I personally support your bill, except I do not support that part," Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said. "I will vote for your bill if you have that provision taken out."
The bill will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.