Republican lawmakers are trying to decide if they want a $19 million tax cut later this year.
Both the House and Senate GOP caucuses (Democratic senators were included in the Senate caucus) discussed the tax cut Thursday.Gov. Norm Bangerter recommended the $19 million tax reduction without saying where it should be made. Legislative leaders, who have yet to decide whether they prefer trimming income, sales or property taxes, fear the $19 million may not be available. They also are concerned that if they give the tax break they may have to cut budgets or face a tax hike next year.
In the Senate, GOP leaders asked the 29 senators to list their preferences regarding the tax cut. Forty-six percent said they want to delay any taxing decision until the end of the session when updated revenue estimates are available, said Senate Majority Whip Dix McMullin, R-Sandy.
Republican leaders in the House endorsed the governor's tax cut to a noontime caucus, one day after Bangerter called them on the carpet for questioning his budget calculations. However, support for Bangerter's plan to soothe taxpayers with a share of the state's surplus is not by any means unanimous among the House Republicans - not even GOP leadership.
Majority Whip David Adams, R-Monticello, said although his constituents in San Juan and Grand counties are some of Utah's most conservative, they are telling him they would rather spend additional state revenues on education. A good number of the Republicans attending the caucus agreed.
But some didn't, including Rep. Frank Knowlton, R-Layton, who is sponsoring a measure to cut the state sales tax by one half-cent to "keep faith" with taxpayers who endured tax increases when times were tough. The meeting ended without a vote to determine a caucus position.
Bangerter won't back down from his $19 million cut. GOP leaders met with the governor Wednesday and both sides report the governor's mind is set. Bangerter believes $19 million is available and he wants it in tax cuts, not in reduced bonding or more spending on state programs.