In all of the debate over the tax initiatives, little has been said about a measure on Tuesday's ballot to give the parents of children in private schools a tax credit.
Most voters know that Initiative A would limit property tax rates and government growth and that Initiative B would roll back sales, gasoline and cigarette taxes to 1986 levels and lower income tax rates.But only in the past two weeks has an organized effort been made to tell the public about Initiative C, which even its chief backer says is probably too late.
"Part of it is probably our fault for not recognizing what was happening earlier," said a frustrated state Sen. Bill Barton, R-Salt Lake. "We won't make up for it." Barton has tried to convince Utahns for years that giving parents credit on their taxes for tuition and other private school costs would provide more money for public education.
Because the credit could be no more than 60 percent of what the state spends to educate each public school student, as much as $482 under current spending levels would be saved for every private school student.
For that reason, Barton believed the Utah Family Choice in Education Act would be the most likely to pass of the tax initiatives. However, it has trailed further behind Initiatives A and B in opinion polls.
The Tax Limitation Coalition was pledged to campaign equally for the three initiatives. When the opposition zeroed in on the first two initiatives, the coalition had to direct its resources there, too.
"That's where they've been spending the money. That's where we've had to concentrate our counter attack," said a coalition founder, talk show host Mills Crenshaw.
But Phil Mettra, campaign director for the group formed to fight the initiatives, said it wasn't intentional that the campaign has turned out to be only one against Initiatives A and B.
He said Taxpayers For Utah found there just wasn't as much concern about tax breaks for parents of private school students compared to the threat of $329 million in state and local budget cuts foreseen by the group.
Meanwhile, Taxpayers For Utah has been even quieter on the topic of independent gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook's campaign, who ran at the urging of the Tax Limitation Coalition.
Cook has boosted the chances of the two tax-limitation initiatives passing using his own campaign commercials to remind voters that, "Prosperity follows tax cuts."
His surprising strength as an independent candidate combined with his advertising the tax-limitation theme has only helped the initiatives, both Crenshaw and Mettra believe.
Because Taxpayers For Utah has tried to include members of both political parties, the group has been unable to confront Cook for fear that it would look like an attempt to help the major party candidates for governor.
A television commercial featuring Republican Gov. Norm Bangerter and Democratic challenger Ted Wilson stating their opposition to the tax initiatives was scrapped by Taxpayers For Utah.
They feared that showing the two politicians agreeing on an issue would reinforce Cook's claims that he is the only candidate who is looking out for the people.