Strike up the Olympic anthem.
The House Wednesday voted 66-0 in favor of a bill that would spend up to $4 million a year in state and local sales tax funds to build winter sporting facilities the state hopes will win a bid for the 1998 or 2002 Winter Olympics.Of course, the expenditure of the tax monies is all contingent upon a vote of the people. And the Senate must first approve of both HB374 and HCR13.
"If this does more to raise the awareness and perception of Utah around the country, then it's worth it," said Rep. Christine Fox, R-Lehi.
Representatives see the process as an image booster for the state, regardless of the outcome. The sponsor of the measure, House Speaker Nolan Karras, R-Roy, argued that Utah must sacrifice now for the economic future of the state, and one way to do that is to invest in Utah's sporting future.
"We are trying to make Utah a haven for amateur sports in this country," said Karras. "Our objectives are larger than the Olympics. It is longer lasting than the Olympics."
The bill calls for Utah communities to donate one-sixty-fourth of every cent in sales tax it collects, which will be matched by the state - about $2 million a year from the state's sales tax revenues and another $2 million from local government.
The money would be spent to build luge runs, a speed skating rink and a ski jumping facility, which are all required before Utah would be considered as a host for the Winter Olympics. Construction on the facilities must be started by 1991.
Once the facilities are built, the sales tax diversion would cease, Karras promised.
- The House kept the ball rolling on sports-related bills by approving a plan that will help Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller build a new arena in downtown Salt Lake City. The bill will make up an estimated $500,000 annual deficit in the Uniform School Fund that will likely result from the financing arrangements through the city's Redevelopment Agency.