People may joke about their inability to balance a checkbook or get caught by surprise when a bill accidentally goes 15 days late. But for many adults, these are not rare occurrences but a systemic problem brought about by a lack of basic knowledge of how to manage their finances. In the best case scenario for these people, a few bills are paid late, at worse, people may become crippled by debt and unable to meet even the most basic of needs.
Senator Pat Jones (D – Salt Lake City, District 4) is working to combat this with SB 43 – Financial and Economic Literacy Education Amendments.
Currently state law charges the State Board of Education to come up with a “financial and economic literacy passport” that produces grade specific training materials that educators can use in the classroom to teach skills such as budgeting, banking, career management, taxes, and lending. These courses are elective but can offer students the skills they need to succeed.
Jones’ bill further codifies this and charges the State Board of Education to produce a report that summarizes how these literacy education courses are being integrated into both elective and regular coursework. To ensure that these courses are effective, individual school districts will also administer a skills certification test to students to evaluate how effective the courses have been.
Unfortunately, this bill does not take the extra step of requiring financial literacy courses to be taught, just that the option be available for educators to use; political capital may simply not be sufficient to push for comprehensive financial literacy courses to be taught from Kindergarten to 12th grade.
This balancing act is a common one that lawmakers struggle with every legislative session – and makes UPC’s grading of legislation difficult. Had the bill required financial education rather than simply making it available, it would earn a higher score. We’re in favor of SB 43 because at least the ball is being pushed forward – but we must recognize that this bill should act as a starting point, not an ending.
To contact Sen. Jones, Click Here or call 801-278-7667
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill