With a tax protest song sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," dozens of tax initiative supporters gathered to hear speeches encouraging voters to get behind the tax limitation movement.
Two shifts of spaghetti dinners had to be served Thursday night to accommodate the nearly 3,000 people who paid $1 a head for the fund-raiser, sponsored by the Tax Education Committee."A half-million dollars is being spent by the UEA (Utah Education Association) and the other sources of funds against the tax initiatives," said event organizer Jim Kirkwood. "We've got to do something."
That something was preaching to the already converted on government's excesses.
"We have a tragedy going on in Utah," Kirkwood told about the crowd gathered in the parking lot on 33rd South and Second East for the dinner. "What we have seen in Utah in the last few years with taxes . . . is an absolute failure of the system."
The tax situation forced businesses to go belly up and the dismal economic situation prompted 50,000 people to leave the state in the last year, he said.
The record tax increase approved by the Utah Legislature in 1987 was unnecessary for education, Kirkwood maintained, pointing to a copy of a June 1987 report by the state on school budgets.
The report showed $87 million in unused school funds "just sitting there," he said. "The tax increase was not necessary." The "fuming dogs at the UEA" are "playing a game with the public."
The three initiatives would roll back gasoline, cigarette and income taxes to 1986 levels; cap property taxes and freeze government growth; and give tax credit to parents with children attending private schools.
The initiatives would help people and not hurt services, he said. "Anyone who denies that is a liar or a fool. But we have a state full of liars and fools."