House lawmakers voted down a bill that would have earmarked a portion of Utah's liquor sales to pay for public education, citing concerns about relying on alcohol consumption to teach Utah children.
"Do you really want [to say] 'Not a drop. We don't want our kids to drink,' but now education funding depends on alcohol?" asked Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper. "The day we start taking money wherever we can find it and run it through a blender and say the ends justify the means is a huge compromise of principle."
HB271, sponsored by Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, would have earmarked a quarter of the growth in liquor sales to public education an estimated $7.5 million in 2014 and $14.5 million the following year.
Bird acknowledged it was an unconventional way to fund education, but said the schools need the money.
Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, said it was a "shame" the state was looking at liquor revenues for schools. "It just bothers me."
"It's just, to me, a way of getting out of funding [schools] properly," she said.
Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, was more blunt.
"Is this a relatively crappy funding measure for public education? Absolutely. I don't like it," he said. "It's inferior to what we should be doing. But we're not doing what we should be doing."
Bird's bill failed, 33-39. He could still try to revive it this session if he can recruit enough supporters.