Most Utahns do not want the $19 million tax cut Gov. Norm Bangerter proposes, saying the money would be better spent on education or social services, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
In announcing his 1989-90 recommended budget last month, the governor said the state will have an estimated $80 million more next year through natural growth in tax revenue. He wants 3 percent pay raises for state workers and full funding for growth in public and higher education to come from that extra money.But he also suggests that some tax - not yet named - be trimmed by $19 million. That equates, roughly, to about a $30 tax bill reduction per household.
That relatively small tax reduction, when weighed against state needs, isn't worth it, 67 percent of those questioned by pollster Dan Jones & Associates said.
However, more than three-fourths of those questioned do favor Bangerter's proposed freeze on property taxes - a campaign promise the governor vows to keep. That is a separate issue from the $19 million tax cut.
Seventy-seven percent strongly or somewhat favor a freeze on property taxes, 17 percent strongly or somewhat oppose and 5 percent didn't know, Jones found in a survey of 600 Utahns taken Jan. 3-5.
Bangerter hasn't yet drafted a bill freezing property taxes - saying the issue is complicated and must be thoroughly studied. Lawmakers may not even take up the property tax freeze in the general session, which starts Monday. But the governor promises to call a special session later this year to deal exclusively with that freeze if it isn't addressed this session.
Jones found strong support for the freeze. Even if it would adversely affect class size or education, half of the 77 percent who want the freeze would still favor it.
Considering the tax revolt of 1987-88, it's a surprise to some that 67 percent want the state to keep the $19 million rather than cut taxes, 45 percent strongly want the state to keep that tax money. "The tax initiatives failed because people worried they'd harm the schools," said Jones. "So it's understandable that people want to support education, even over a tax cut."
Bangerter said so many declining a tax cut shows him that many citizens are concerned about maintaining a good educational system. "That's why we suggested a modest figure (the $19 million), we won't short circuit (education) with that suggestion," he said.
If the tax cut does come, however, most want the sales tax reduced from food, Jones found. Thirty-five percent want the food sales tax reduced, 17 percent want the whole sales tax reduced, 14 percent want more of the deduction for federal income tax allowed on state returns, 12 percent want state income tax rates cut and 9 percent want the state-mandate property tax for education reduced.