The two of the three tax-cutting initiatives that will appear on November's ballot are still favored by a majority of Utahns, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
Support for the measures has remained fairly constant for several months, a review of previous newspaper and TV polls shows.If the election were held today, 57 percent of those questioned would vote in favor of an initiative that would limit residential property tax to 0.75 percent of fair market value for residential property, 1 percent for commercial property and limit growth in government spending, according to pollster Dan Jones & Associates.
Twenty-two percent would vote against that initiative and 20 percent don't know how they would vote, Jones found.
On the initiative that would cut the taxes on sales, income, motor fuels and cigarettes back to their 1986 levels, Jones found that 56 percent would vote for the initiative, 35 against and 9 percent don't know.
The only initiative that doesn't have a majority of support is the one that would give parents an income tax credit for children in private schools. Jones found that 41 percent would vote for the measure, 51 percent against and 9 percent didn't know.
Last week, the Utah State Tax Commission released its updated figures on what the initiatives would mean in reduced tax revenue to school districts and state and local governments.
Commissioners say the initiatives would reduce revenues by of $329 million.
Leaders of the Utah Tax Limitation Coalition, the group that got more than 64,000 signatures on petitions to place the initiatives on the ballot, don't agree with those figures. But no matter what numbers are
used by those opposed to the measures, supporters say the money can be cut from government and education budgets without great harm to programs.
"Your polls haven't moved in four months. That tells us that the citizens of Utah aren't buying the scare tactics of the opposition," said Greg Beesley, chairman of the Utah Tax Limitation Coalition. He said the media and politicians alike have ignored the school tax credit initiative, and so it doesn't have the support of the other two. "It is a solid proposal. We can turn that around."
Taxpayers for Utah wants just the opposite: defeat for all three initiatives. Leaders of that group - well-known former politicians - warn that if the initiatives become law, Utah will suffer for years.
"We'd like to see more change in the poll numbers," said Phil Mettra, campaign manager for Taxpayers for Utah. "But we really didn't expect it. We've only been going as a group for a month. The other side has been at it for over a year."
Mettra believes that as his group "educates the citizens more," the two tax-cutting initiatives will lose their majority support. Taxpayers for Utah is supported by a wide variety of government, labor union, citizen and business groups and will spend more than $500,000 fighting the initiatives.
"We have 700,000 people who belong to those groups," said Mettra. "Our job is to convince our own people, and have them convince a neighbor or relative."
It's generally considered that the initiatives have their greatest support among conservative Utahns. But Jones found that the highest percent of support comes from Democrats or those who consider themselves liberals.
If the election were held today, would you vote for or against the initiative that would limit residential property tax to 0.75 percent of fair market value and other property to 1 percent of fair market value?
For 57 percent
Against 22 percent
Don't know 20 percent
If the election were held today, would you vote for or against the initiative that would reduce the state sales, motor fuels, tobacco and income taxes back to their 1986 levels?
For 56 percent
Against 35 percent
Don't know 9 percent
If the election were held today, would you vote for or against the initiative that would give an tax credit to parents of children attending private or parochial schools?
For 41 percent
Against 51 percent
Don't know 9 percent
Sample size: 905; margin of error plus or minus 3.2 percent