Democrats have, in recent elections, garnered a clear majority in the West Valley area. Of the five House seats in and around the state's second-largest city, four are held by Democrats.
Democrats hope to make it a clean sweep as the only Republican, Rep. Boyd Warnick, R-Taylorsville, is retiring from the Legislature. All four incumbent Democrats are running for re-election.The Deseret News asked each candidate to explain his stands on some of the issues of concern to voters this year: the tax initiatives, economic development, bonding to build highways and other government projects, AIDS and budget cuts.
The three tax initiatives that will be on the general election ballot Nov. 8 call for limits on property tax rates and government growth; a rollback of cigarette, sales and gasoline tax increases passed by the 1987 Legislature; and a limited income tax credit for parents of children enrolled in private schools.
-Republican Thomas G. Goudie, a candidate for the seat held by Warnick, does not support the tax-limitation initiatives because he believes they go too far.
However, he said, the initiatives are not a legislative issue, but a ballot issue. And if they are passed by the people, Goudie would work to make resulting budget cuts as fair as possible.
While opposing the limitation measures, Goudie does support the initiative to provide a tax credit to parents of children in private schools. But clarification is need so private schools do not include home schools.
Goudie said he sees little chance that taxes will be increased with public opposition and lawmakers' reluctance. Efforts instead will focus on maintaining existing services with the existing taxes available to the state.
Public demand likely won't allow services to decline, he said, so lawmakers must juggle needs with funds by improving accountability and efficiency.
Bonding is a legitimate way to finance needed improvements, Goudie said, but there is a limit. The candidate agrees with Gov. Norm Bangerter's proposal for a $50 million, six-year repayment limit on bonds.
If tax limitation forces lawmakers to examine cutting public education, Goudie said the first whittling should involve redirecting the state Office of Education to make it an agency overseeing educational computer systems.
"Privatize the bus system or possibly even do away with it," he said. "Privatize the lunch system. Cut back on principals in high schools and junior highs. Assign principals to three schools each.
"I will not vote to cut teachers or their salaries, nor will I vote to cut classroom expenditures," said Goudie.
To spur economic development, Goudie proposes tax breaks for outside businesses related to transportation costs into and out of Utah. He also supports increasing the venture capital fund for already-established firms.
Goudie, a Taylorsville resident, is a manager for Ryder Freight Systems.
-The initiatives that would roll back some taxes, freeze others and give credits to parents of children in private schools would cause more problems than people realize, says Bob Anderton, Democratic candidate.
As does his Republican opponent, Anderton opposes the initiative calling for property-tax limitation.
"Its passage would severely hamper the ability of cities, counties and school districts to provide vital services because (property tax) is among the primary revenue sources."
The candidate, who has lived in the West Valley area for 17 years, called "broad and sweeping" the initiative that would roll back the gasoline, cigarette and sale taxes to 1986 levels. "As an alternative, I would support an elimination of sales tax on food and prescription medications."
And Anderton called the initiative that would give credits to parents with children enrolled in private schools "the most objectionable and transparently motivated by greed. It's like opening Pandora's Box."
"If we allow tax credits for private schools, where do we stop?" Anderton said. "Private roads, because someone doesn't like the highways? Private armies, because someone doesn't like the one we have?"
Until Utah's economy gets out of the skids, Anderton said residents "are going to have to bite the bullet" and provide for services.
Providing for essential structures, such as building roads, dams and government offices, should be done judiciously, the candidate said. "Utah enjoys a very favorable bond rating, which should be used as a tool to provide a better state, rather than as an idol to worship from afar."
Should the initiatives pass, Anderton has reservations about cutting public education's budget.
"I suppose that if worst came to worst we would have to look at elimination of free busing, kindergarten, interschool athletic competition and dance and assembly expenses, and look at establishing user fees such as textbook rentals," Anderton said.
Anderton, of Taylorsville, is a sales engineer for Goble Sampson Associates.
District 49 is a L-shaped district bordered by 40th West on the west, 41st South on the north, roughly 15th West on the east and 47th South on the south. The district also includes the area of West Valley City between 47th South and 54th South and from 32nd West to 40th West.
-Republican candidate Brent Ursenbach opposes property tax limitation and a rollback on cigarette, gasoline and sales taxes, but he supports limited tax credits for parents of children in private school.
"I am opposed to the property tax limitation initiative," Ursenbach said. "I wonder if those supporting this realize that big business stands to benefit the most.
"Dollars spent today for quality education will be returned many times in years to come. These cuts would have a devastating impact on education reforms. Education must be considered an investment in the future of our children and state."
Of the rollback, he said: "We are already years behind in building and maintaining roads in the state. If we want to provide for the handicapped, the poor, the aging, drug and alcohol problems, then we need to pay for them.
"All government agencies need to be accountable for where money is spent and need to continually make efforts to increase efficiency. Arbitrary cuts are not the answer."
Specific tax cuts in cases of service duplication or abuse of funds could be made, said Ursenbach, and he opposes any tax increases. Instead, economic growth should fund schools, prisons, the poor, etc.
Government regulation discourages growth instead of promoting it, he said.
If the initiatives do pass, Ursenbach would oppose cuts in teacher salaries, supplies or kindergarten.
Bonding to build dams, highways and government buildings should be limited to "those items that have a long life and will be of benefit to future generations." Such bonding, he said, should be short-term, around five years, to pay off.
To revitalize the state's economy, Ursenbach supports tax credits for training the unskilled, strict enforcement of licensing laws and a restructuring of unemployment insurance rates so new businesses do not have to pay maximum rates while they are struggling to get started.
-Incumbent Rep. Allan C. Rushton, D-West Valley City, did not respond to the Deseret News questionnaire. He is seeking his second term.
District 50 is bordered by 35th South on the north, by 40th West on the east, by 47th South on the south and generally by 54th West on the west.
-Incumbent Hugh Rush, D-West Valley, opposes all three tax initiatives, which he said would "cripple city and county governments."
"If the people vote for tax rollbacks, we will all have to live with the consequences. They will be damaging to the social structure of all state services.
"But if they pass, I think my knowledge of programs would be an advantage in helping to effect required reductions," he said. "I stress that there will be a heavy price to pay."
Funding for higher education, he said, should be maintained at present levels, he said.
Rush, a retired Highland High debate teacher seeking his second term in the House, opposes tax increases to fund education, prison growth and programs for the poor. "No candidate in his right mind is going to say raise taxes," he said.
"They will be lowered with or without the initiatives. My preference would be to keep them the same for now and lower them as the economy improves. Sales taxes would be the first I would lower."
He would support bonding to build dams, highways and government buildings, because "the state cannot grow and prosper if our roads are breaking up, our bridges falling down and public buildings crumbling."
Rush contends attracting outside industry and businesses to Utah is not a panacea. Instead, Utahns should "create and start our own businesses."
"Not many firms are going to move here. We've been content to let outside venture capital fund our growth in the past. Now, if we are to grow, that venture capital will have to come from Utahns," he said.
"Our worst fault is our lack of confidence in ourselves. So, changing our attitude is a must."
When considering AIDS legislation, Rush believes that laws must protect confidentiality and defend against discrimination, while protecting health-care workers from possible infection.
-Republican challenger Ken Heaton would like to see lower taxes, he said, but a one-time tax on a home when it's purchased might be a better solution than the limitation on property taxes.
And although Heaton said a tax credit for the parents of children in private schools is a good idea, he's concerned the initiative might "create a hardship for the poor and the middle class."
As such the initiative does not get Heaton's nod. The candidate, although in favor of reduced taxes, questions whether the initiatives are the appropriate method to get smaller tax bills.
"I honestly feel we need to look for ways we can cut taxes in just about all departments of government, including schools, and I don't mean classroom expenses or teachers' salaries.
"But, I think of overall use of buildings and maybe a cut in some other programs such as recreation, for example. However, we may need more taxes for schools; we must give our children a good education at all costs," he said.
Heaton said that if the initiatives pass, he would "like to see cuts in state school board, district offices and some classes which do not apply to basic education."
Heaton opposes bonding for building dams, highways and government buildings.
"I feel if monies spent for highways is spent on highways and we considered some other alternatives such as one-way streets, we could do very well," he said. "I would not support bonding for buildings. If we cut government we would not need more buildings."
To improve the state's economy, Heaton would "try to get outside state contracts for current businesses as an alternative to new businesses who bring in their own people. I also feel we need to promote our state and work more on tourism throughout the state."
Heaton also supports legislation that would make it a criminal offense for anyone to knowingly and illegally spread acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
-Unlike the Republican and Democrat, American Party candidate Teddie Ireland supports the tax initiatives.
If they pass, Ireland would cut administrative costs and non-teaching specialists, she said.
Rather than raising taxes in the future to meet prison growth, poverty and education needs, Ireland said she'd support cuts in education administration costs.
To fund higher education in the face of increasing enrollments, decreasing budgets and deteriorating faculty morale, Ireland would "start by raising the non-resident tuition to perhaps double its level, putting it more in line with that charged by other major universities" and by "cutting the unconstitutional spending by the state government for entitlements and regulatory agencies."
Bonding, she said, would be fine except "we are already overcommitted. We should have user financing on bonds."
To boost the state's economy, Ireland said, "The best thing that can be done is to reduce taxes to a reasonable level, get rid of much of the business regulation that the state imposes on business and allow free enterprise capitalism to function here once again."
When considering any legislation to deal with AIDS, Ireland said lawmakers should "stop treating AIDS as a civil rights issue and start treating it as a health issue."
AIDS carriers, she said, "should be identified and compelled to trace their contacts to get HIV tested."
-Libertarian candidate Bob Waldrop did not respond to the Deseret News questionnaire. He is the state party chairman.
District 51 generally includes the area between 31st South and 41st South from the Jordan River to 40th West, plus a section south to 47th South between 15th West and the Jordan River.
-Rep. Daniel H. Tuttle, D-West Valley City, opposes all three tax initiatives on November's ballot.
The property tax limitation would "severely cut into public education dollars. In a state with approximately half of its citizens under 18, we have a small base to tax with a very large population in our school systems," he said.
"Within 10 years this inverse population problem is expected to change with a lower percentage of our population in our public school systems. While we need to continue to cut our waste and fraud, we also need to exercise some patience until our schools are not as burdened and our taxing base has increased."
The tax increases of 1987, the Democrat said, were "necessary to balance our budget due to eroding highways, bridges and expanded growth in schools."
"We must continue to maintain our posture of frugal budgets in the future and develop improved accountability to cut where possible and improve our revenue base through economic development," he said.
Higher education standards must be maintained, Tuttle said, adding that he has no specific suggestions to change the current funding methods.
"We must maintain our current state schools without jeopardizing the opportunities they provide our young people," said Tuttle, a pipe fitter and millwright for BP Minerals America.
"They must be able to maintain their quality to maintain their education credentials and accreditation, research programs and impetus in bringing in new businesses."
Bonding to build dams, highways and government buildings has been successful in the past, the legislator said, and is a method of funding he supports.
-Republican Bill Bates and Libertarian Brett D. Wall did not respond to the Deseret News questionnaire.
District 52 is an irregularly shaped district that includes Magna and portions of West Valley City west of 64th West and north of 41st South.
-The Libertarian candidate, Holly Roseberry, strongly supports all three tax initiatives.
"The right to own and have control over your own home, as given by the Constitution, is being eroded by property tax . . . which must be lowered. Citizens need to be secure in home ownership without the threat of being taxed out of their homes," Roseberry said.
The candidate supports taxing property only when it changes hands, using a percentage-of-sale assessment.
Tax credits for private schooling would "encourage undecided families to take advantage of private education, relieving the current overcrowding in public schools," she said.
"Credits will also give a financial boost to the public education budget (because) the credit will be less than current cost per student, leaving funds to raise teachers' salaries."
Students should provide their own materials, she said, and administrators should have a $40,000 ceiling on salaries. Students should be expected to ride UTA buses where possible. Extracurricular activities should be paid for with fees, and frills like "oak doors" should be stopped.
Higher education should entirely be funded by tuition and donations, not with taxpayer money, Roseberry said. And the way to attract business and industry to Utah to help the state's economy is through lower taxes.
Roseberry opposes bonding for building dams, highways and government buildings.
"Our gasoline taxes are meant for upkeep, building and repairing our roads," she said. "And we have many large, expensive government buildings now. Let's keep government small enough to remain within these buildings for which we are already taxed."
Education and research are the tools officials should use to "protect the populace and prevent the spread" of AIDS, according to Roseberry.
-Incumbent Brent H. Goodfellow, D-West Valley City, opposes all three tax initiatives, saying they are not in the best interests of most Utahns.