To the editor:
Unitarians in Salt Lake City and at the national level are strongly urging government legislators and executives to redirect economic resources to alleviate poverty and inadequate basic services. We implore the governor and legislators of Utah to adopt and adhere to the Legislature's own "Vision Statement for Utah" and the recommendations of the Utah Issues Conference for 1991.Since Utah's people are our greatest resource and since human resources that are not developed become a drain on future state resources, we feel that state government must play a greater role in assisting the most vulnerable sector of Utah's population.
In particular, we urge state policymakers to increase welfare payments and self-sufficiency programs so as to achieve a target of 3 percent annual reductions in the percentage of Utahns living below the poverty line.
In the area of human services, prevention programs in health, mental health and delinquency show the greatest return on investment but receive far less spending than treatment facilities, such as hospitals and prisons.
Programs for those living in the community with special needs are also badly underfunded. In addition, higher spending is sorely needed for education and better access for all Utahns to adequate housing, nutrition, health and child care.
State government could also do more to encourage greater citizen participation in community services and in local civic improvement. Volunteer work and grassroots involvement can make a big difference in the quality of life to many individuals and communities and, better still, it does not require any significant government spending to function.
Realizing that parts of this agenda will require more state revenues, however, we believe that sufficient funds could be raised without raising income tax rates for middle-income families and even with a tax reduction for the poor. Instead, we recommend that the state constitution be amended to allow income tax to go to other state needs in addition to education; taxes be raised on those earners most able to absorb an increase, and on unearned income; and a modest sales or corporate income tax be instituted for all professional services (e.g., medical, legal, financial, etc.).
We believe that this represents the fairest and least burdensome approach to enhancing the revenues that are desperately needed to invest soundly and sufficiently in Utah's future.
The Social Action Committee
First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City