The state should spend more tax money on tourism and on efforts to advertise recent changes in its liquor laws, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Wilson said Monday.
But Republican Gov. Norm Bangerter said tourism already is booming."I'm not here to promise you more money. That's an easy answer to any question," he said.
Wilson, Bangerter and independent candidate Merrill Cook faced members of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau early Monday in one of a series of recent debates sponsored by various groups.
As in previous three-way debates, Bangerter and Wilson focused on three tax-limiting initiatives on the November ballot and what they feel will be the harmful effects of tax cuts.
Cook, who is aligned with supporters of the initiatives, took the brunt of criticism. Bangerter and Wilson agreed the tax cuts would hurt tourism, even though the cuts would not affect the state's transient room tax.
"You'll receive less state money," Bangerter told the tourism officials. "I'd like to see the plan of where the cuts are going to come."
Wilson said the tax cuts would "kill the golden goose" of tourism, thus harming the state's economy.
"There's no question that if the initiatives pass there's going to be an obvious cut in state tourism spending," Wilson said. "I don't think the Legislature would do anything other than that. This would hurt those things that make us grow and prosper."
But Cook said his opponents were using ridiculous logic. Tourism will not be hurt because the transient room taxes will remain, he said. He also accused Bangerter of supressing a report by a committee that outlines how up to $60 million could be saved through simple reforms. The committee was appointed by Bangerter.
Bangerter, who maintains he has not received a copy of the report, said he believes it contains recommendations that would require drastic changes in the mission of the University of Utah.
The report, scheduled to be released Friday, recommends the university raise its entry requirements and require its professors to teach more and research less.
"We can save double the $60 million if we want to completely change the philosophy of our universities," Bangerter said, noting he is not willing to recommend such a change.
All three candidates said they favor efforts to build a new stadium for the Utah Jazz. However, Wilson said construction should be done without taxpayer help and Bangerter would not rule out the possibility tax money would be used.