Call on legislators to prioritize housing during Coronavirus

Utah State Legislators will come together as early as this week in a Special Session to vote on state budget cuts necessitated by revenue shortfalls from the coronavirus. Appropriation subcommittees met last month and provided their suggested 2020 and 2021 cuts to the Executive Appropriation Committee, which is scheduled to meet this Wednesday at noon to take a vote before presenting their final budget cut recommendations to the entire legislature. Cuts of 2-10% and hundreds of millions of dollars are being considered, threatening many social services, including housing programs. 

During the 2020 Legislative Session, SB 39 appropriated $5 million for housing preservation and $5 million to compliment private activity bonds to build affordable housing in Utah – an important and cost-efficient start to addressing an affordable housing shortage of 53,000 units and growing.

However, this hard-won $10 million is now at risk of being eliminated during budget decisions happening this week. Advocates are calling for the state to dip into its $1.7 billion rainy day fund to prevent cuts to housing, social services and public education spending. Now especially, when housing is critical to safeguarding health during a pandemic, funding for housing should be prioritized, not eliminated.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Please write to the members of the Executive Appropriations Committee before Wednesday, June 17th, and ask them to not defund the SB 39 Affordable Housing Amendments.

Simply scroll down and click “Start Writing” to send your letter to the Committee.
(Remember to personalize your comments for the greatest impact! Why do YOU support this proposal?)

  • State and local government, the nonprofit sector, and private and public child care providers are already working hard to meet the pressing workforce need for reliable child care. We need an equal investment from the business sector. Employers must pitch in to help their employees who need childcare solutions in order to be productive members of Utah’s workforce.
  • According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, affordable childcare should cost no more than 7% of a family’s income. However, in Utah care for an infant costs 14% of a median family’s income and 65.9% of a minimum wage income per year. A single parent with two children can pay around 60% of annual income childcare alone.
  • The childcare industry has reached market failure. Encouraging businesses to invest in childcare can foster economic development and increase accessibility to childcare.
  • Ultimately, HB 89 will help businesses as well as families. Business leaders acknowledge that their ongoing top concern is a skilled workforce shortage. Research shows again and again that offering childcare solutions significantly improves employers’ ability to attract and keep skilled workers. When we tear down barriers to workforce participation, companies end up with a better recruitment, employee retention, a diverse workforce and a better bottom line.
  • HB 89 encourages more private sector partners to offer some type of quality child care policy to their employees. The list of qualifying options is broad and flexible, providing discretion and flexibility to the private sector in return for supporting their workforce.
  • Creating a targeted tax incentive with HB 187 will help Utah businesses fill workforce gaps, help families who are struggling to pay high costs of care, and help child care providers with needed investment from businesses to increase quality.
  • Businesses are struggling to retain and attract quality employees. HB 187’s tax credit for those that subsidize child care costs will allow them to be competitive and retain working parents that would otherwise leave the workforce due to the high cost of care.
  • By partnering with private industry, the state would encourage investment into the child care sector that has reached market failure. In fact, 16 states have established some form of an employer tax credit like the tax credit proposed in HB 187.
  • HB 89 and HB 187 benefit businesses as well as families. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce, when companies provide child care benefits, employee absences decrease by up to 30% and job turnover declines by as much as 60%.

How to make sure your letter is successful:

  1. Use a clear and specific subject heading.
  2. Start with a salutation (“Dear …”).
  3. Be CIVIL, PERSONAL and as CONCISE as possible.
  4. Mention that you are a CONSTITUENT and include your full address with zip code.
  5. Sign your name at the end.

Write Your Letter Here

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