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Revenue Surplus Prompts Talk of Tax Cuts

Revenue Surplus Prompts Talk of Tax Cuts



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The latest figures on the state's projected revenue surplus has legislators talking about tax cuts.

The surplus is expected to total $112 million, with the extra money largely coming from income taxes, the state Tax Commission said Wednesday.

Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, said he had "no interest in giving a tax rebate from the current surplus, but does have "a strong interest in looking at a tax reduction for the next year if the revenues continue to increase at this rate."

He said the latest report on state finances "bodes well" for the new effort on tax reform.

The state's Tax Reform Task Force will look at where the tax cuts should be made, said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo and co-chairman of the task force.

"I think there's going to be some pressure for tax cuts. And I think we will get some tax cuts," Bramble said. "We're looking at a comprehensive approach and that's got to include tax cuts. Absolutely."

However, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s spokeswoman, Tammy Kikuchi, said, "any discussions about tax cuts are premature. These are still (revenue) estimates, which change every month.

"The final numbers, from what I'm being told, we won't know until August. The tax reform group is just getting started, so we want to give them some time," she said.

House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, said it was too early to make any commitments on what lawmakers should do with the extra cash.

"To make any commitments early on is not a good way to be fiscally responsible," he said.

Democrats the surplus should go toward underfunded state programs, especially education.

"There are unfunded needs in basic education, in math, science, in our statewide testing programs, many areas," said House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake.

Minority Whip Brad King, D-Price, said maybe the Republican majority can spend it all on roads. "But wait, that would be redundant."

Democrats, teachers and others complained during the 2005 session when Republicans pumped hundreds of millions of dollars in surpluses into road and building construction.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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