Herbert says he will not support tax hike

Herbert says he will not support tax hike

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is making it clear he does not support a tax hike for food or tobacco.

His strongest comments on taxes come as state lawmakers are brainstorming ways to fix the budget.

Herbert is very clear that he thinks Utah does not need a tax hike. He tells the Salt Lake Tribune, "If civilization as we knew it would come to an end," he "maybe would not veto a tax increase."

Herbert calls raising taxes "really a last-ditch effort" and says he worries it would be devastating to Utah's economy. He says it's too early to talk about it anyway, because no one has seen state revenue numbers yet.

Utah may be facing as much as a billion dollar shortfall next fiscal year. Herbert says budget cuts should be able to stave off tax increases next year. He is asking departments to look at 3 to 7 percent cuts.

His response comes as state lawmakers float the idea of restoring the food tax, although some don't see that as an increase but instead a swap with another tax to stabilize the tax base.

Two state lawmakers, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, and Rep. Kay Mciff, R-Richfield, say they'd like to see it balanced with tax credits for the poor and an income tax decrease.

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