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John Daley ReportingA statewide petition drive in support of open space funding is edging closer to officially earning a place on November's ballot.
The deadline is tomorrow afternoon at 5 p.m. for county clerks to report their count of signatures for the ballot proposition. The proposition would dedicate 150 million dollars in state funds for open space protection.
If there are enough signatures in 26 out of 29 state senate districts the proposal will go on the ballot in November. If not, the effort is over. We checked the state's website for the latest updated numbers and found the initiative has enough votes in 23 of 29 districts and is getting close in five other districts.
Volunteers and paid personnel have been collecting signatures for weeks. They want voters to decide whether to raise sales taxes slightly over the next ten years. It would set aside 150 million dollars to buy, protect and rehabilitate land, and to create parks and trails.
Many other states have similar programs. The open space campaign here has broad bi-partisan support, but at least one pro-business advocacy group is opposed, saying it's bad tax policy because it ties the hands of lawmakers.
Mike Jerman, Utah Taxpayers Assn./May 25: "Of course, the biggest objection we have is that it's a new tax. We're already the 7th highest tax state."
Open space supporters say the tax would represent just one 20th of one percent on our sales tax. The big question tonight though, is will it get on the ballot? At this point they've reached that in 23 of 26 and need three more to make it one the ballot.