The economic survival of Utah rides on a rollback of Gov. Norm Bangerter's record $168 million 1987 tax hike, says a leader of a grass-roots campaign to put tax reductions on the November ballot.
Mills Crenshaw said backers of Bangerter's tax boost said it was needed to save financially struggling schools, but education has not improved and business has suffered.However, Rep. Frank Knowlton, R-Layton, who debated with Cren-shaw at Weber State College, said the proposed rollbacks could lead the state to revenue disaster.
Crenshaw said the tax hike is leading to an exodus of businesses from the Beehive State because "they don't have to stay around and get beat up by the tax man."
Without relief from the heavy tax burden, more businesses will leave the state, he said.
Tax protesters are circulating petitions to get four tax initiatives on the November election ballot. One of those initiatives would roll taxes back to pre-1987 levels, and another would limit property tax on residential property to 0.75 of a percent.
Crenshaw said the two initiatives combined would mean an overall cut of between 5.6 percent and 5.9 percent in state and local government budgets.
But Knowlton, who as executive appropriations chairman is responsible for assembling the state budget, said Crenshaw's figures don't take into account the federal matching money the state would lose.
Further, Knowlton said the downturn in the state's economy mentioned by Crenshaw took place before the tax increase occurred not after.
"I say if you're not satisfied with that budget . . . the proper way to change it is to deal directly with those legislators to get the budget you want. You can't do it all in a single sweep," he said.