Support slipping slightly for gas tax hike to raise money for schools, poll shows

SALT LAKE CITY — Support is slipping slightly for the nonbinding question on the November ballot about raising state gas taxes by 10 cents a gallon to help fund schools, according to a UtahPolicy.com poll.

Results released Wednesday show 50 percent of Utahns say they back raising the gas tax for education, down from 52 percent in May. Opponents of the increase are up to 47 percent, from 43 percent.

The poll of 809 likely Utah voters was conducted Aug. 22-31 for the online political news source by Dan Jones & Associates and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent points.

“It’s going to be close,” said Austin Cox, campaign manager for Our Schools Now, the group that reached an agreement with lawmakers to drop an initiative that would have raised both sales and income taxes to collect some $700 million.

The non-binding ballot question is part of that agreement, which also included record education spending and a five-year freeze in the state property tax levy that allows additional revenue to be captured as property values rise.

Cox announced Wednesday that Our Schools Now and state leaders have now also agreed on how the additional revenue would be spent. He said a working group has been meeting privately to draft legislation.

The bill, which does not yet have a sponsor, follows much of the formula in the original initiative except for setting aside 5 percent of the new public school funding for teacher retention programs, Cox said.

Eighty percent of the new education funds would go to K-12 schools and the remaining 20 percent of the overall increase in funding would be available to higher education.

A 10-cent hike in the state’s 29.4 cents a gallon gas tax is expected to bring in $180 million in the first full budget year …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

SLCC Westpointe Center aims to ‘close gap’ of Utah’s workforce needs

SALT LAKE CITY — As Gov. Gary Herbert’s education adviser, Tami Pyfer frequently fields telephone calls from business and industry representatives who are searching for skilled workers.

“(They say) ‘We need more. We need a skilled workforce. We support public education but there’s a gap. How can you help us?’ I really wasn’t prepared for the enormity of the gap and this problem facing our business and industry partners,” Pyfer said.

On Wednesday, some of those same industry partners joined in celebrating the opening of Salt Lake Community College’s Westpointe Workforce Training and Education Center in Salt Lake’s northwest quadrant.

SLCC President Deneece Huftalin said the $43 million, 121,000-square-foot center was designed and built with the support and vision of industry, government, community and education partners.

“This is the first building in my experience with the college where we have had this kind of community and industry support be so explicitly stated as we went through the building process,” Huftalin said.

The stamp of industry partners is evident throughout the center, contributing both state-of-the-industry equipment on which students can learn and train and scholarships to support their educations.

“We will be thanking them for many, many years as they stepped up to help us with this building,” Huftalin said.

The center includes 34 lab spaces, eight classrooms and a 3-acre lot for SLCC’s commercial truck driving program.

Across SLCC’s campuses, 28,000 students are enrolled in career and technical education, commonly known as CTE courses. The community college offers 106 CTE certificate programs and 32 degree programs.

Westpointe has labs for composite materials manufacturing, injection molding, machining, diesel systems technology, 3D printing and 104 booths alone for welding instruction.

Students can also earn certificates in solar photovoltaic sales and installation.

The massive solar panel installation on the roof the facility not only produces electricity for the building, it serves as a learning …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

UTA wants feedback on proposed Flex bus route in Davis County

BOUNTIFUL — The Utah Transit Authority will hold a public hearing to gather feedback for a proposed Flex bus route to service Centerville, West Bountiful, Woods Cross and Bountiful.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at the Davis County Library’s South Branch, 725 S. Main, Bountiful.

During the hearing, residents, private transportation providers, public officials and interested agencies will be allowed to comment on the proposed route.

Flex buses run on a fixed route and schedule, but unlike regular buses, passengers can request in advance a deviation or a special stop up to three-quarters of a mile from the regular route. The proposed route will run select trips to the Woods Cross FrontRunner Station and will operate weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9p.m., with 30-minute all-day service. No Saturday or Sunday service is proposed at this time.

Written comments or email comments may be submitted to the following address: Andrea Packer, Utah Transit Authority, 669 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, or emailed directly to hearingofficer@rideuta.com.

All comments will become part of the public record if received by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

…read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Utah Climate Week offers host of activities from Logan to Kanab

SALT LAKE CITY — More than two dozen organizations and businesses will come together Oct. 1-7 to share ideas and innovations during Utah Climate Week 2018.

Organized by the Utah Climate Action Network, the week’s activities will include nearly 30 events — such as film screenings, exhibits and lectures — from Logan to Kanab.

“We all have a role to play in turning the tide on climate change,” Sarah Wright, executive director of Utah Clean Energy, said in a statement. “Climate change is an area where we, as a state, need to be more proactive and collaborative. Utah Climate Week is the perfect way for us to come together as a community, see new opportunities and move forward in combating climate change.”

The overarching message throughout Utah Climate Week will be on solutions. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, alternative transportation options and sustainable agricultural practices are increasingly affordable and accessible across the nation and in Utah.

To learn more about Utah Climate Week 2018 and see a full list of participating organizations and events, visit utahclimateactionnetwork.com.

…read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News