Lawmakers who believe they must cut taxes this session in response to the tax limitation movement are wrong, a Brigham Young University pollster told both houses of the 1989 Legislature.
BYU professor David Magleby, who coordinated a statewide exit poll, advised legislators Monday not to forget that the three tax initiatives on the November ballot were defeated by an "extraordinary majority."More than 60 percent of Utah voters said no to the initiatives even though they knew they could have reduced their taxes, he said in an opening-day speech given to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
"These initiatives gave voters the opportunity to significantly lower their taxes with one stroke of the pen or one switch of the voting machine," Magleby said. "It's important to remember that was the real choice, and the real choice that the vast majority of Utahns did not make."
His exit polling, conducted by students at 120 voting locations state wide, showed the majority of Utahns who voted against Initiative A want more money spent on education and the same allocated for other government services.
While the majority of those who favored the property tax-limiting initiative did not want to see increases in any category of government spending, most wanted the same amount of funding, not less.
The Tax Limitation Coalition, the group behind the initiatives, has said voters expect to see their taxes reduced this session and recently proposed removing the sales tax from food.
Coalition leaders blame the initiatives' defeat on what they termed "scare tactics," the claim by opponents that the initiatives would go too far by reducing $329 million from state and local budgets.
Talk on Capitol Hill of cutting taxes "misses the point. It's wrong," Magleby said. What voters were saying in the last election is that they would rather have an increase in some government spending than a tax cut, he said.
The latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll found that most Utahns do not want the $19 million tax cut proposed by Gov. Norm Bangerter and have suggested that the money would be better spent on education or social services.