House Democrats came out in favor Tuesday of cutting sales taxes - if a tax cut is deemed to be the "political will" of the GOP majority. The House has already approved a bill to cut the sales tax by a quarter-cent in an effort to negotiate a compromise with the Senate, which wants the $19 million tax cut proposed by Gov. Norm Ban-gerter to come in the form of restoring more of the state income tax deduction for federal income taxes paid.

House Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, suggested that at least $3 million in tax relief should go into the so-called "circuit breaker" program that gives low-income elderly Utahns a break on their property taxes.Dmitrich said he "wouldn't mind throwing the whole $19 million" into education programs. He said he recognized that was not politically possible, even though that's what the public would prefer.

Other suggestions from the Democrats include boosting the salaries of teachers and state employees an additional 1 percent above the 3 percent pay increase already proposed by the governor. The additional 1 percent would amount to $13 million, Dmitrich said.

(BU) Senators on Tuesday refused to end a sales tax exemption on manufacturing equipment purchased to expand plants, leading proponents of ending the tax break to say most of their colleagues were gutless.

Sens. Haven Barlow, R-Layton, and Omar Bunnell, D-Price, wanted to "sunset" the tax break in 1992 and thus bring an additional $5 million into state coffers. Currently, the exemption runs forever unless the Legislature changes the law.

But Sen. Cary Peterson, R-Nephi, got the body to amend the bill to say that lawmakers will only study adding sunset restrictions to the tax break.

"This shows we don't have the ability, desire or motivation (to kill a tax break for big business) when faced with a critical issue," said Barlow. "If we can't do this, we'll never remove any of the exemptions from the books. We just don't have the courage to do away with it."

The amended bill, calling for a study, was then sent to the House where Barlow and others hope representatives will amend it back to its original form to end the exemption.