Press Release: UUP Opposes Current Tax Reform Proposal

Press Release: UUP Opposes Current Tax Reform Proposal

UUP says that changes would hurt the poor and threaten education funding 

The United Utah Party has issued the following statement in light of proposed tax reforms being considered by Governor Gary Herbert and legislative leaders:
The United Utah Party opposes the current tax reform proposals being discussed by the governor and legislative leaders. While we agree that something needs to be done to continue to fund government services for Utahns into the future, we believe that the ideas currently being considered are not in the best interests of the people of Utah and could have devastating consequences for Utah’s already underfunded education system.
Utah’s constitution currently mandates that all income-tax revenue be spent on education. This proposal would move toward eliminating that requirement and allowing lawmakers to take the money currently earmarked for schools and spend it however they choose. 

Given that Utah has the lowest per-pupil education spending of any state in the nation, we should not give the legislature the opportunity to cut public education spending even further.  The writers of our constitution highly valued public education and wanted to protect it.  That's why they designated it as receiving all of the funds from income tax.  We have an obligation to our children to take the same approach.  Unless future legislatures are dominated by UUP legislators, we have no doubt lawmakers will use funds that should be dedicated to education for some other purpose.

The proposed changes also benefit high income earners at the expense of the poor and the middle class. The food tax, particularly, is a highly regressive tax that shifts the tax burden to those who can least afford it.  Most states don't use it.  Utah shouldn't either.
We don't see the value of an across-the-board tax cut because it doesn't help middle class taxpayers very much, if at all.  But it gives a large tax break to certain high income earners.  Yet, those are the very people who need it least.  
Taxes on services also are being considered, but exemptions are being carved out for services that have expensive lobbyists at their disposal. That is unacceptable, and it is likely to increase cynicism among a Utah electorate that already distrusts the out-sized impact that lobbyist money has on the legislative process. 

Rather than a wholesale reduction of the income tax, we propose a more graduated income tax rate that would not force middle income taxpayers to bear the brunt of the tax burden.  Utah is one of the few states with a flat tax.  The vast majority of states use a more progressive tax system that places more of a tax burden on those who are better able to afford it and less on those who are less able to afford it.   A slightly more graduated income tax rate would alleviate the need for a regressive food tax.  
We also propose that an independent commission be appointed by the legislature to examine current corporate tax loopholes.

We also object to the process the legislature and the governor are using to do this.  There is too much at stake here to act rashly in a way that will benefit the few at the expense of the many. We urge the governor and lawmakers to allow real input from citizens. 

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