Republican lawmakers will move ahead with two tax-cutting bills and decide later whether the sales tax, income tax or both will be reduced later this year.
In separate caucuses Thursday afternoon, House and Senate Republicans made separate decisions on their approach to taxation.In the Senate, Sen. K.S. Cornaby, R-Salt Lake, said he has more than the 15 votes needed to pass his SB102. That bill restores part of the deduction for federal income taxes paid to state income tax returns. Cornaby's bill would move the amount of federal taxes deductible from 33 percent of federal taxes paid to 50 percent. That bill is scheduled for debate Friday.
Meanwhile, the House GOP caucus agreed to go along with what their leadership described as "strategizing" and send a bill to reduce the sales tax over to the Senate. The representatives were scheduled to consider the bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Knowlton, R-Layton Friday morning.
The bill, which is the only tax reduction measure to be passed out of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee chaired by Knowlton, would reduce the sales tax by one half-cent. GOP House leaders had suggested the reduction be reduced to one-eighth cent, which would amount to a tax cut of an estimated $18 million.
There was some reluctance among the caucus members to propose a tax cut that small and the suggestion that the money could be better spent on education. When it came to a vote, 31 of the 47 House Republicans said they favored a tax reduction. And 23 said they wanted that reduction in sales tax, compared to 17 who wanted it in income tax rates and just three who would prefer property tax cuts.
-THE GOVERNOR'S REQUEST for $33 million in additional spending this year - called supplemental appropriations in legislative language - is in real trouble.
GOP senators were told Thursday that only $4.6 million is "really needed this year." The rest can be saved, if lawmakers so decide.
Bangerter's supplemental request includes things like $12 million for partial construction of the West Valley Highway, $6.5 million in water projects and $1 million in state park improvements.
"This isn't a true supplemental request if you go by what we've seen in years past," said Senate Majority Leader Cary Peterson, R-Nephi. "That is, most of these things we don't have to pay for. It is a wish list with much of the spending going into the base budget to be picked up again next year."
-IN THE FIRST MAJOR DEFEAT of a tax bill this session, senators on Thursday rejected a bill that would have given a sales tax credit to ski resorts who spent money on new snowmaking equipment, lifts and snow-grooming equipment.
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, tried to sell the tax credit as an economic development tool. Even though the credit would cost the state $2.2 million in sales tax, if the new equipment helped ski resorts open sooner and attract more out-of-state tourists officials estimate it would bring in more than $3 million a year in new tax growth offsetting any sales tax lose.
But most senators didn't buy it. "This is a giveaway, just a giveaway to well-to-do businesses who could afford without a tax break to buy this equipment to make more money," said Sen. Omar Bunnell, D-Price. The bill was killed 11-17.
-THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL to limit government spending had its first airing in the House Thursday, but no vote was taken because the bill is being amended. Members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee listened to an extensive list of amendments, including one that would give lawmakers more latitude as to when they could spend beyond the limitations set by the bill.
"The State Appropriations and Tax Limitation Act," sponsored by Rep. Glen Brown, R-Coalville, would tie increases in government spending to population growth and inflation. If the idea of limiting taxes sounds familiar, it is: One of the three failed tax initiatives would have restricted government growth as well as property tax rates.