It's the same old argument between the groups for and against the tax initiatives about how much would have to be cut, but now the figures being tossed around are in the billions, not millions.
The Utah Taxpayers Association on Thursday released an itemized list of the programs opponents of the tax initiatives say would be cut if the initiatives are approved. The initiative proponents say that if all those cuts are added up, the total comes to $1.5 billion.But Taxpayers For Utah, the group formed to fight the tax initiatives, said that it is standing by its estimate that $329 million would have to be cut and maintained that items on the Utah Taxpayers Association list had been double- triple- and even quadruple-counted.
Neither side has agreed on the financial impact of Initiative A, which would limit property tax rates and government growth; Initiative B, which would roll back tax increases; and Initiative C, which would give parents of children in private schools a tax break.
Supporters have used the $329 million estimate prepared by the state Tax Commission, while opponents say it would be closer to the $255 million estimate prepared by the legislative fiscal analyst's office.
The Utah Taxpayers Association maintained Thursday that tax-initiative opponents have exaggerated the amount of the cuts in state and local budgets that would be required.
"When telling of where cuts will fall, opponents list items which should be separated by the word `or,' but when they parade these claims before the voting public, they use `and,' " Howard Stephenson, association spokesman, said in a press release.
The Utah Taxpayers Association press release said opponents contend that public education would lose $124 million in tax dollars statewide if the initiatives pass. However, the group says its calculations of the opponents' list of programs would total more than a $475 million budget cut.
Taxpayers For Utah responded later Thursday with a press release that cited the fallacies in the calculations. It listed millions of dollars' in public school programs that were counted twice by the initiative proponents.