Lawmakers consider tax hikes

Lawmakers consider tax hikes

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State lawmakers are looking at tax increases after getting the clearest picture yet of the impact of $1 billion in budget cuts.

According to the Deseret News, a report in an open caucus meeting Tuesday detailed what the cuts to the state budget would actually mean. It would include:

  • 3,000 state jobs slashed
  • 5 days cut from school year
  • Dozens of state programs dropped
  • About 400 inmates released

So, lawmakers are talking about tax increases. House Budget Chair Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, says the cigarette tax is the most likely to see a boost. Gas and food taxes and car registration fees are other options.

Still, he is reluctant.

"We have the federal stimulus package, we have ways to deal with some of the cuts. If you raise taxes when there's a downturn in the economy, it doesn't help," he said.

In a Dan Jones & Associates survey of 1,000 Utahns, the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Utah asked about people's willingness to have their taxes increased.

Seventy-seven percent of Utahns surveyed say they are willing to increase the cigarette tax, the gas tax, sales tax on food, and other taxes.

The Deseret News reports a 20 percent hike in all state taxes and fees would be required to close the entire $1 billion budget gap. That's not feasible, so cuts and some tax hikes will likely result instead.


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