Poll: Utahns support tax increases and more cutbacks

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The debate over taxes--whether they be on tobacco, alcohol, income or gasoline--inspires strong feelings! Utahns weighed in on an exclusive new poll.

Clearfield resident Cody Wills says, "Maybe raise taxes to get the economy back up, offer employment. There's lots of different things that could really help people out."

Rebecca Gleichman, also of Clearfield, says, "They should be lowering taxes because it's really killing our economy right now."

With the state facing a big budget shortfall, Utahns seem to prefer a combination of more budget cuts and tax increases. That's according to an exclusive new KSL-TV/Deseret News poll by Dan Jones and Associates. Some taxes draw much greater support than others.

It's now the midway point of the 2010 legislative session and many of the big decisions are ahead, including how to balance the 2011 budget. The state continues to face a hefty budget shortfall and services from education to health and human service have all suffered cutbacks in recent years.

Our new poll of 410 Utahns conducted last week finds a quarter of those polled support further cuts. Twelve percent prefer to see an increase in targeted taxes and/or fees, and 57 percent of those polled back a combination of more budget cuts and tax increases.

"They should lowering taxes because it's really killing our economy right now. And people have a harder time paying the taxes and right now the economy is so bad that we're losing more money than gaining," Gleichman says.

Salt Lake City resident Pat Baskin said, "Income tax is probably about where anyone can afford it right now." Baskin also said, "Probably a combination of the two. Strictly because I see where it impacts. I have a classroom with 43 kids in it. That's huge. Any bigger, we can't take it."

Forty-one percent support a hike in the severance tax on coal and natural gas and 38 percent back restoring the sales tax on unprepared food.

Our poll found 80 percent of Utahns back increasing the sales tax on tobacco, the same for a tax hike on alcohol.

Clearfield resident Daniel Phillips said, "I've been a smoker for a while. I'm trying to quit. If the prices went up, it would probably help me better to stop smoking."

Gov. Gary Herbert has said he opposes raising taxes, which he believes stifle economic growth.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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