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Government Specialist Richard Piatt reportingThis afternoon, the Senate approved a bill that calls for sweeping changes to public education, for tuition tax credits, and for a tax increase.
So much is included at once that a lot of people wonder how far it will get from now on.
There are some at the Capitol, like House Majority Whip Jeff Alexander, who will flat out say it, "I do not support a general tax increase at this time."
But at committee meetings, more targeted tax increases ARE getting approval.
- This morning a porn tax gained favor.
- A tax on hazardous waste is gaining momentum.
- A six-cent per six pack beer tax has already cleared the senate.
- Some credit unions may start paying tax.
- And it will probably cost more to register your car next year, too. But none of that is enough to cover budget shortfalls, and what is clearly emerging as a legislative pet project is education reform. For that, some in the Senate are reluctantly supporting a tax increase. Republican Senator Leonard Blackham of Moroni says, "We have limited choices at this point." Today's Senate approval of the Education Omnibus bill, that includes sweeping changes as well as tuition tax credits, also includes a tax increase. That means the first hike to personal income taxes, and to corporate taxes in years. It would also allow the state to capture a portion of the federal Child Tax Credit, now pending in Congress. All are tax increases that are meeting resistance from a lot of people. Mike Jermain of the Utah Taxpayers Association says, "The tax increases proposed by the senate is rather high. It increases income taxes, increases corporate rates, to the tune of between $90- and $100- million, and that's a significant increase." And that means a fight in the House, whose members are still resisting anything resembling a general tax increase, even if it means education reform will have to wait.