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Utah

Our key allies in Utah at Promise Partnership Utah provide backbone support for and work through the Promise Partnership Regional Council, a cross sector partnership working to ensure every child in Utah has the opportunity to succeed in school and life. The Alliance also supports the work of Voices for Utah Children, a trusted advocate for children’s issues and a resource for the media, state agencies, and elected officials on issues affecting children.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 31% (136,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL (2021). This number represents a decrease from 37% (172,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox signed a series of bills making up the state budget for fiscal 2024, which provides $29.4 billion in total funds, an increase of $1.3 billion, or 4.5 percent, over the revised fiscal 2023 budget. The budget provides $14.6 billion in general fund, income tax fund and uniform school fund (GF/ ITF/USF) spending, an increase of $2.9 billion, or 25.0 percent, compared to the revised fiscal 2023 budget. General fund and income tax fund revenues are estimated at $11.3 billion in fiscal 2024, a decrease of 3.5 percent from the revised fiscal 2023 estimate while overall resources (including reserves, surplus and transfers) total $14.7 billion in fiscal 2024. Looking at reserve funds, total projected fiscal 2023 balances of $1.2 billion represent about 10.2 percent of combined fiscal 2023 GF/ITF/ USF appropriations.3

Key Revenue Sources:

    • Personal Income Tax (5.0%)
    • State Sales Tax (5.95%)

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Republican.4

Types of Ballot Measures Available:5  Four

    • Legislature-initiated state statute: Appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-initiated state statute: Earns a spot on the ballot when sponsors collect signatures according to the laws governing the initiative process in Utah.
    • Legislature-initiated constitutional amendment: A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Veto referendum – When citizens of Utah disagree with a statute or legislative bill enacted by the state legislature, they can collect signatures to force the issue to a vote. If enough signatures are collected, the bill is placed on the statewide ballot.

Key State Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:6

2023 Policy Progress:

Utah passed a number of bills that will increase access and opportunity for families and improve outcomes for kids in health and education. The biggest win was a law providing full-day kindergarten to every child in the state.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:7

Thanks to many years of hard work by the Utah Full-Day Kindergarten Now! Coalition and others, HB477 Full-day Kindergarten (FDK) Amendments passed, increasing access from 34% to 100%. This big win moves FDK funding into the weighted per pupil unit (how grades 1-12 are funded), and out of the various grant programs that have funded FDK until now. While expansion will look different in every school district because of demand and space issues, all Utah families will soon be able to choose the kindergarten option that works best for their children and family.

The legislature also passed SB217 Children’s Health Coverage Amendments after years of advocacy work. The bill will expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover all uninsured children under 200% of the federal poverty level, including immigrant children, if they have been living in the state for at least 180 days and their parent has unsubsidized employment. This is a huge win for children in Utah.

The passage of SB133 Modifications to Medicaid Coverage will extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers who are low-income from 60-days postpartum to 12-months postpartum. Providing essential coverage and care that will improve health outcomes for both new moms and their babies. The bill also extends family planning services to a wider range of families which will prevent unintended pregnancies and save the state an estimated $5.7 million in healthcare costs.

Utah’s first state child tax credit also passed, HB170 Child Tax Credit Revisions. The tax credit is applied on a sliding scale based on income, providing lower income families with a state child tax credit to support their childcare, food, or other immediate needs. While the bill is limited, it is a good start and will help hundreds of Utah families with kids between one and three years old. One year olds were included in a different tax credit, so they were not included here.

The legislature appropriated $4.7M in state general funds and $10.3M in TANF funds for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services to release an RFP for a home visiting innovation pilot. This is one-time funding to be spent over three years.

Unfortunately requests to invest in key child care programs funded with federal COVID dollars were denied during this session. Utah coalition partners will be going back in 2024 to ask for funding that has helped improve and expand child care access and services.

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:
Alliance for Early Success Utah Early Childhood Policy

Utah Coalition Celebrates Passage of Full-Day Kindergarten Option

The Utah Full-Day Kindergarten Now! Coalition of more than 50 organizations is joining with Utah families to celebrate the passage of a full-day kindergarten option across the state. A bill passed by the legislature and signed by the governor provides greater access to optional full-day kindergarten in Utah by funding the program the same way grades 1 through 12 are funded.

Read More »

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

5 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

6 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

7 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Utah, United Way of Salt Lake, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

Preschool and Pre-K

 

Child and
Maternal Health

Maternal Health

Infant & Child Health

Family
Supports

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Click here and  here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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