"Too much moralizing" has been done by opponents of the tax initiatives, Democratic candidate for governor Ted Wilson told a group of banking officers before asking them to vote against the measures.
Wilson told the nearly 150 members of the area chapter of Robert Morris Associates, a national association of bank commercial loan and credit officers, that any one vote would probably not destroy the state.Such a claim, he said, "stretches the point and destroys credibility." Wilson called on opponents to instead speak out against the tax initiatives in precise terms.
However, he said he could not say where cuts would be made if the three initiatives are approved by voters in November. Those decisions, Wilson said, should be made in consultation with the public after the election.
The initiatives would slice as much as $329 million from state and local budgets by limiting property tax rates and government growth, rolling back income and other tax increases passed by the 1987 Legislature, and giving parents of children in private schools a tax credit.
Wilson said the Republican incumbent, Gov. Norm Bangerter, must take his share of responsibility for the initiatives because of his "yo-yo" economic policy.
He said that policy resulted in the tax increases of 1987, which produced a surplus that was in part returned to taxpayers in the form of an income tax rebate. Wilson called the rebate, "an effort to buy your vote with your money."
Most voters would view getting back part of their 1987 state income tax payment as representing inefficiency in government and inattention to duty, he said.
The former mayor of Salt Lake City then turned to his record as a public administrator, citing the restructuring of city government and budget reductions during his terms.
Wilson digressed from his prepared speech to talk about economic development. He concluded his presentation by asking the Republicans among them to "keep your minds open. I need you."
In the prepared speech, Wilson spoke of Bangerter's role in sparking the tax-initiative movement in much harsher terms: "The voters of this state were made ready to buy the snake-oil remedy of the tax initiatives because of the policies of the present administration."
He went on to call the tax initiatives a sort of a referendum on whether Utah can afford four more years of Bangerter, which is why the governor is not "leading the charge" against the initiatives.
"He knows that a large part of the initiative support is merely a measure of the frustration about the current administration," Wilson said.
For that reason, polls showing strong support for the initiatives are misleading, since many Utahns are voicing support before the election to send the message that they are only willing to pay their fair share of taxes if their money is not wasted.
"Let me tell you I have heard that message," Wilson said. He added that if he is elected taxes would not be raised, but would be fairly assessed and government services would be provided with efficiency.