In November Utah voters will be given an opportunity to ask lawmakers to consider increasing the state gasoline tax. A group supporting Question 1, an opinion question, is releasing a statewide campaign to convince voters that it is a good idea to pay more at the pump as an indirect way of paying to improve Utah schools.
Austin Cox is with Our Schools Now, a group advocating for higher pay to attract qualified teachers to Utah. He says some Utah school districts are facing employee vacancies.
"Many vacancies even as school gets back started this week," Cox says. “Because we are not investing in the state as we should be for education.”
The group is using an advertising campaign asking Utah drivers to vote yes on a non-binding request to increase the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon to fund local road construction and maintenance to free up additional funding for education.
"High-quality education is priceless, and if we can help deliver that for just $4 a month then that is a wise investment in our kids," he said.
Beginning this week Our Schools Now is running television ads featuring elementary-aged students explaining why using gas tax money to pay for road and transportation needs will free up general funding money to help attract and keep educators, pay for school programs and improve learning. The campaign includes television ads, billboards and social media.
"So, pretty much anywhere Utahns go to get information they will have information access to information about Question 1," Cox said.
It is estimated that up to $100 million will become available if voters say yes to the idea and then lawmakers decide to pass a gas tax bill for roads and bridges, and ultimately, education. In March lawmakers chose not to approve a plan for an income tax increase to improve Utah schools.