Legislature to Scrutinize Public Employee Collective Bargaining

(KCPW News) Republican State Senator Howard Stephenson is having a legislative committee look at eliminating collective bargaining for public employees like teachers, following what was passed in Wisconsin and considered in other states. Stephenson says he just wants to learn the facts and study whether it’s the right thing to do.

“I think it’s clear that collective bargaining sometimes has put employees ahead of students, and to the extent that that occurs, it ought not to occur, and we ought to see what we can do to improve education for students, and still make the teaching profession something that is more desirable,” he told KCPW.

Stephenson will also have the Education Interim Committee consider tuition tax credits. Opponents consider them to be vouchers, but Stephenson disagrees, saying the legislature heard loud and clear that vouchers aren’t wanted in the state.

He notes that tuition tax credits have been upheld in Arizona, adding that it would be targeted specifically at low-performing students, not everyone.

“As we saw in national studies from Education Week, Utah doesn’t perform so well in our graduation rates, and so the question is what can we do to empower parents to maybe take other options,” he says. “We have enacted charter schools in Utah, which helped to supply some of that need, but we want to look at whether the Arizona model should apply to Utah.”

The Legislative Management Committee approved Stephenson’s request to have those items considered yesterday. They won’t be discussed during today’s special session; instead, they’ll be debated in the fall. The president of the Utah Education Association tells the Salt Lake Tribune Stephenson’s plan is an effort to privatize schools.