Most Utahns believe passage of the tax-cutting initiatives will result in cutbacks in government services by state and local bureaucrats, but they also believe the tax-revenue reductions could be absorbed through better management.
Those are the results of two of four questions asked about the initiatives by Deseret News/KSL-TV pollster Dan Jones & Associates in a survey conducted last week.To find out how some of the major arguments used by proponents and opponents of the initiatives are being received by the public, Jones asked:
-"Opponents warn of cutbacks in services to the public if the tax-cutting initiatives are passed. Do you believe there will be cutbacks in services?" Sixty-five percent of those questioned believe there will definitely or probably be cutbacks, 26 percent believe there will probably or definitely not be cutbacks and 9 percent don't know.
-"Proponents of the tax-cutting initiatives say the tax money returned to citizens will stimulate the economy, leading to new business growth and thus greater revenue. Do you believe passage of the initiatives will stimulate the economy?" Forty-six percent do believe that, 43 percent don't believe it and 11 percent don't know.
-"Opponents of the initiatives say that passage would cause the average Utah public school class size to increase. Will the initiatives cause class size to increase?" Forty-six percent said yes, 40 percent said no and 14 percent don't know.
_"Proponents of the tax-cutting initiatives say that the tax cuts can be absorbed through better management of government and schools. Do you believe they can be absorbed through better management?" Seventy percent believe the cuts can be absorbed, 23 percent said they can't be and 7 percent don't know.
There will be three initiatives on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Initiative A would limit taxes on residential property to 0.75 percent of fair market value, all other property to 1 percent of fair market value and limit growth in state and local governments.
Initiative B would roll back the sales, tobacco, gasoline and income taxes to 1986 levels.
Initiative C would give a state income tax credit to parents whose children attend private schools.
The most significant finding in the latest poll is that 70 percent, almost three-fourths, of all Utahns believe the cuts can be absorbed by government and schools through better management. That belief could well lead to votes for the initiatives. As reported in Wednesday's Deseret News, Jones found support for the initiatives themselves has dwindled over the summmer, but more Utahns still favor initiatives A and B than oppose them.
Opponents of the measures say they will cost governments more than $340 million. Proponents of the initiatives say that is an inflated figure, the real cost being closer to $225 million.
Opponents say the cuts will mean a 15 percent reduction in government funding, while proponents say it will be closer to 3-5 percent cut in spending.
"We have more work to do," said Dale Zabriskie, spokesman for Taxpayer For Utah, a group opposed to the initiatives, when informed that 70 percent of those polled believe government can absorb the cuts through better management. Zabriskie's group warns of severe cutbacks in local government and schools should Initiative A pass, complete with teacher layoffs.
Greg Beesley, chairman of the Utah Tax Limitation Coalition, the group sponsoring the initiatives, said: "The 70 percent response shows me that people generally believe as we do. That is, waste in government can be corrected through better management. We've always said that. Those in government continually try to compare us in Utah with national averages or national statistics (to show how spare Utah government is). But in Utah, we think, because of our unique situation of more children per adults than any other place in nation, we have to do a better job in what we're doing, whether that is running a university, a public school or building a road. We can't afford to do what other states do."
POLL Opponents warn of cutbacks in services to the public if the tax-cutting initiatives are passed. Do you believe there will be cutbacks in services?
Definitely will 28 percent
Probably will 37 percent
Probably will not 17 percent
Definitely will not 9 percent
Don't know 9 percent
Proponents of the tax-cutting initiatives say the tax money returned to citizens will stimulate the economy, leading to new business growth and thus greater revenue. Do you believe passage of the initiatives will stimulate the economy?
Definitely will 16% percent
Probably will 30 percent
Probably will not 24 percent
Definitely will not 19 percent
Don't know 11 percent
Opponents of the initiatives say that passage would cause the average Utah public scholl class size to increase. Will the initiatives cause class size to increase?
Definitely will 18 percent
Probably will 28 percent
Probably will not 26 percent
Definitely will not 14 percent
Don't know 14 percent
Proponents of the tax-cutting initiatives say that the tax cuts can be absorbed through better management of government and schools. Do you believe they can be absorbed through better management?
Definitely will 43 percent
Probably will 27 percent
Probably will not 11 percent
Definitely will not 12 percent
Don't know 7 percent
Sample size: 903; margin of error plus or minus 3%