Press Release: ABU Education Fund Commends Decision to Study State Education Governance

Press Release: ABU Education Fund Commends Decision to Study State Education Governance

Salt Lake City, UT – Today, H.J.R. 13 “Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution — State Board of Education,” was heard in the House Education Committee and ultimately was held in the committee for further long-term study. H.J.R. 13 would have turned these into positions that are appointed by the Governor. Currently, members of the State Board of Education are elected by the voters of Utah.

“Direct elections are the best way to hold public officials accountable,” said Chase Thomas, executive director for ABU Education Fund. “Rather than increasing accountability, this proposal would have done the opposite. Those running for governor do so on a platform built from many issues, not just education governance.”

“We are pleased with the decision to hold this legislation with the intent to have a task force study the issue further. By that point, we hope the Utah Supreme Court will have issued a ruling in our ongoing partisan school board case. We also hope this will lead to a more thorough examination into the pros and cons of governance structures that is simply not possible during a 45-day legislative session.”

In 2017, ABU Education Fund filed a lawsuit against the State of Utah to challenge the 2016 law, SB 78, establishing partisan elections for the State Board of Education. They joined with the Utah PTA, Utahns for Public Schools, and several individuals to challenge this law. Last year, the case was heard before the Utah Supreme Court after the state appealed the decision by a lower court in favor of the plaintiffs. A decision from the Supreme Court is still pending.

ABU Education Fund Releases Rural Redistricting Report

ABU Education Fund Releases Rural Redistricting Report

Today, the ABU Education Fund released a report focused on the impacts of gerrymandering on rural Utah. The report, titled “Fair Redistricting: A Better Deal for Rural Utah,” outlines the recent history of redistricting in Utah, explains the reasoning behind our four rural-urban mixed districts, and explores the ways in which rural-urban mixed districts disadvantage rural Utahns.

Who is showing your legislator the love this Valentine’s Day?

Salt Lake City — How much love is your legislator getting? The non-partisan ABU Education Fund launched Version 2.0 of its “Follow-the-Money” disclosure database today to help Utahns answer that question this Valentine’s Day.

The improved campaign disclosure website, which can be found at https://abueducationfund.org/followthemoney/, now features a streamlined search function, the latest statewide candidate filings, and a new design that makes viewing and researching on smartphones much easier. And it should make holding Utah’s elected officials accountable even easier.

“Utah political financial disclosure has always been available on the Lt. Governor’s website,” said Joshua Kanter, executive director of the ABU Education Fund. “But you have to know what you are looking for, wade through dozens of different reports, and there is no capacity to search across donors, years and candidates. Our database will save people time and the typical frustration that comes with searching through the individual disclosures and trying to compile those results.”

But it is important to note that the data is only as good as the as the campaign finance laws currently in place in Utah, said Kanter. In the aftermath of the John Swallow scandal, several legislators have opened bill files that would place limits on campaign contributions and would improve disclosure requirements.

“Campaign finance laws, despite their overwhelming support by most ethics groups and voters, continue to face an uphill battle in Utah, one of only four states without campaign contribution limits,” said Kanter. “This database might not impact the passage of those laws, but it will make it easier for insiders and the general public alike to follow the money.”

The new database features a single search function in place of the multiple search options that previously made the database more complicated to search. Users now have the ability to search across multiple tables, contributions and expenditures with a single search term. And, with smartphone optimization, users can search for information just about anywhere they are.

“More and more people are turning to their smartphones for information about their elected leaders,” said Pat Thompson, the website’s designer. “Journalists and activists who might not have access to a laptop during committee meetings and interviews will find the improved smartphone functioning especially useful.”

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Contact:
Joshua Kanter
Executive Director, ABU Education Fund
435-287-4228 | josh@abuedfund.org