Huntsman, Karras Clash Over Taxes in Debate

Huntsman, Karras Clash Over Taxes in Debate

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The two Republican candidates for governor have different views on future increases for the state.

One said there wouldn't be a justified reason to do it, while the other cautioned there are no guarantees.

Jon Huntsman Jr. and Nolan Karras squared off in a debate Thursday as they campaigned ahead of the June 22 GOP primary.

"I would not raise taxes," Huntsman said. "Based upon a lot of data I have seen, there would be no excuse for us to have to raise taxes beyond where they are today."

Karras, the other Republican in the race, was far more cautious. Any increase would be done only "very reluctantly," Karras said.

"We would need to get the waste out of government first, before we ever got to a tax increase," Karras said.

Both candidates expanded on their tax view following the hourlong debate sponsored by the Salt Lake Chamber and radio station KCPW.

"To me, it is unrealistic to lock yourself in during a campaign and say to people, 'Sure, we'll just absolutely -- read my lips -- guarantee"' no new taxes, Karras said.

"I just think the public is smart enough anymore to be able to see through that. If you can't hold to it, then you lose your integrity in the public's mind."

Huntsman advocated repealing the sales tax on food.

"There is no more regressive tax," he said.

His campaign has scaled back from proposing all-out elimination of the tax, which raises between $150 million and $240 million, to a partial reduction of about $30 million.

Karras and Huntsman are running for the Republican nomination to face Democrat Scott Matheson Jr. in the November general election.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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