A tax cut, a property tax freeze, a pay raise for state workers, greater flexibility in educational funding, a comprehensive drug abuse plan, more money for hazardous-waste cleanup, water projects, new buildings and new highways.
"That's all part of our ambitious legislative program this year," Gov. Norm Bangerter says.His legislative agenda is still growing, not yet complete, and more items may be added later.
"We got a little behind the clock on the budget and our legislative agenda because of the election," Bangerter said in a telephone interview from the Governor's Mansion, where he's recovering from knee surgery performed last week.
"It's an ambitious agenda for the session, yes, but it isn't a one-year agenda. We've never looked at the budget or running the state on a year-by-year basis. This is an ongoing process."
At the heart of Bangerter's agenda is his six-point tax plan promised in the waning hours of the campaign.
"This may be the first time in the state's history that a governor's legislative agenda is really driven by campaign promises," said Bangerter's chief of staff, Bud Scruggs.
Democrat Ted Wilson was leading the governor by 10-15 points in the polls late last summer when Bangerter suggested the plan. Many Monday-morning quarterbacks credit the plan - Bangerter's own idea - with giving him the little extra needed to nip Wilson by 2 points on election day - securing a second term for the Republican incumbent.
Key to the plan is Bangerter's promise to freeze property taxes. He admits the complicated nature of that endeavor - with its real impact on schools and local governments, which count heavily on the tax - will take time to work out.
A committee is studying a solution and Bangerter hopes a bill can be introduced this 45-day session.
"If we can't fully resolve it this session, at least I want a bill freezing everyone (all property taxing entities) until we can deal with the overall solution in a special session later this year," Bangerter said.
A Deseret News/KSL-TV poll published Sunday shows 77 percent of Utahns favor Bangerter's property tax freeze.
The governor also wants a $19 million tax cut starting July 1, the new fiscal year. He doesn't propose which tax should be cut, preferring a legislative debate to settle it. Reducing taxes when possible is another part of his six-point campaign promise. Pollster Dan Jones & Associates found, however, that 67 percent of those questioned in the latest poll don't favor such a relatively small tax cut. They prefer the state keep the money and spend it on education or other state needs.
What the governor wants
- $19 million tax cut (which tax decided later)
- Freeze on property tax rates (may wait for a special session)
- 3 percent pay raise for state employees
- $1 million more in property tax relief for poor and elderly
- $400,000 for a state hazardous-waste cleanup
- $50 million bond to pay for new state buildings
- $6 million for water projects
- More money into educational block grant program and fewer restrictions so more school districts can participate
- Eight-part drug plan:
Revoke drivers' licenses of teenage drug abusers
Quicker subpoenas in drug cases
Penalties for laundering drug money
Laws to track drug money through banks
Tracking of chemicals used to make certain drugs
100 hours of community service for teenage drug abusers
Tougher drug-stamp law
$150 fine for drug abuse to help pay for above