Advocates for affordable housing, all-day kindergarten in Utah say they’ve been short-funded

SALT LAKE CITY — Advocates for affordable housing and all-day kindergarten say the Utah State Legislature is not fully funding bills that would greatly help Utahns.

At a news conference on the Utah State Capitol steps on Tuesday, advocates for the homeless and affordable housing complained that lawmakers had only funded $55 million of the $128 million requested for housing needs in the state in the midst of a housing crisis.

“To slash proposed funds for those who are in need of deeply affordable housing while providing tax cuts to the wealthiest among us,” said retired Rev. Steve Klemz of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “To slash those funds, I believe, rips at the very moral fabric of our state’s hope to live in dignity and equity.”

The legislature has been flush with cash from tax revenues and federal stimulus dollars. At the same time, Senate Republican leaders said they have been slammed with requests from a number of groups. Senate President J. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said they would like to start with $55 million and see how it is spent.

“We think we funded what’s needed. It’s pretty hard as you know, you see those monies, we’d like to see how those moneys are spent. We haven’t hesitated in the past to be able to especially focus on homeless, we spent tens of millions of dollars dealing with the problem,” he told reporters.

All-day kindergarten is another initiative that has seen popular support in the legislature, but only got partially funded. The bill to enable it passed the Senate on a 24-3 vote — yet another sign of its popularity. Advocates asked for about $23 million to expand the program statewide, but only $12 million was funded.