Monday, the group opposing the three tax limitation initiatives will officially begin its campaign. It has its work cut out - a new Dan Jones & Associates poll shows two of the three initiatives are still favored by most Utahns.
The poll, conducted for the Deseret News and KSL-TV, shows that if the general election were held today, 54 percent would vote for the initiative that would limit property taxes and curtail government spending, and 58 percent would vote for the initiative that would do away with the 1987 tax increase.A third initiative that would give an income tax credit to parents whose children attend private schools is favored by 40 percent of those polled, Jones found.
Taxpayers For Utah is the group opposing the initiatives. It's headed by former Govs. Scott M. Matheson and Calvin Rampton, both Democrats, and by former U.S. Sen. Wallace Bennett and former state Sen. Warren Pugh, both Republicans. The group includes a number of business and labor associations.
On the other side is the Utah Tax Limitation Coalition, a group of citizens that started the tax protest movement after the 1987 Legislature increased taxes by $160 million, the largest tax increase in the state's history.
Coalition members circulated the three initiative petitions for more than a year and gathered enough signatures. Last week Lt. Gov. Val Oveson said the initiatives will be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot.
That means voters, by a simple majority, will decide if the initiatives become law. If they do, the Legislature and governor in January 1989 could modify or even repeal the tax-cutting measures, although if a majority of voters want the measures it would be political trouble to mess with them.
Taxpayers For Utah will hold a press conference Monday to discuss the campaign to defeat the initiatives. The group has hired a professional campaign consulting firm and public relations firm to help with the effort.
Greg Beesley, chairman of the tax limitation group, said he and his supporters will fight the opposition as best they can, saying his group won't have the commanding public figures or the money that the opposition has.
Support for the two main tax limitation initiatives has remained steady for several months, polls show, after reaching a peak of over 60 percent support last year.
Do you favor or oppose the tax initiative that would limit residential property taxes to 0.75 percent of fair market value and all other property to 1 percent of fair market value?
Strongly favor 26 percent
Somewhat favor 28 percent
Somewhat oppose 9 percent
Strongly oppose 11 percent
Don't know 26 percent
Do you favor or oppose the initiative that would reduce the sales, motor fuels, income and tobacco taxes back to the 1986 levels?
Strongly favor 38 percent
Somewhat favor 20 percent
Somewhat oppose 15 percent
Strongly oppose 19 percent
Don't know 9 percent
Do you favor or oppose the initiative that would allow an income tax credit to parents whose children attend private or parochial schools?
Strongly favor 21 percent
Somewhat favor 19 percent
Somewhat oppose 19 percent
Strongly oppose 31 percent
Don't know 10 percent
Sample size: 603; margin of error plus or minus 4 percent