By Chris Buttars
Utah State Senator
The Utah Constitution lists the phrase “according to statute” or “provided by law” 74 times. The phrase is listed 19 times when dealing with taxation in Article 13.
However, Article X of the Utah Constitution, which deals with the education of our children, contains no such language. Because of this absence the Department of Education has at times considered itself autonomous from the supervision and direction of the State Legislature and from the Governor.
The gun issue at the U of U campus wasn’t run by the Board of Education but it illustrates the concept. This problem took years of time and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, before the Supreme Court finally found that the state was sovereign and that all state departments are subject to legislative direction.
By adding the phrase “according to statute” after the sentence in Section 3 of Article 10 that reads, “The general control and supervision of the public education system shall be vested in a State Board of Education”, the issue will be resolved and the Education Department will understand they are accountable to the Governor and the State Legislature, and subject to checks and balances, just like every other entity that uses state tax money.
The added clause will solve myriad problems. It highlights the State as the singular sovereign and clarifies the line of authority under which the Department of Education and the State School Board operate within State Government.