- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

SALT LAKE CITY, March 4 (UPI) — A proposal to grant state tax credits to the parents of private-school students in Utah was shelved after it became apparent there were not enough votes to pass the measure at the same time the Legislature is struggling to increase revenues without raising taxes.

State Rep. Steve Urguart said late Monday he was removing his proposal from the education omnibus bill because there were not the necessary 38 votes to pass either the tax credits or any revenue enhancements to cover the $90 million the credits would cost.

A last-ditch proposal to make the tax credits available only to low-and-middle-income families appeared to spark some interest among lawmakers, although not enough to push the measure over the top.

"We got close to 38 votes when we talked about (that)," Urquhart told the Salt Lake Tribune, "but there was not a big enough pool of switchers (from public to private schools) to make it work."

Supporters of the bill had ventured that that the tax credits would help rather than hurt public schools because it would encourage families to take their children out of the crowded public schools in the growing state.

The plan met with enough resistance that it was deemed expendable for the sake of passing the overall education bill.

The Legislature Monday passed the state's main budget bill, a major step toward formal approval of the $7.5 billion spending plan. The debate over specific tax and fee hikes will continue before the budget package for the July 1 fiscal year goes into effect.

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