With that sage advice, Gov. Norm Bangerter said Monday that income tax reduction this year "is achievable," even though his own Republicans in the Legislature don't agree with him on how that cut should come about.
In fact, senators Monday evening voted to spend the $19 million and $8 million more from the Rainy Day Fund - on new state buildings. That, of course, would mean no tax cut of any kind. (See legislative wrap-up on A2.)For 40 days Bangerter has kept lawmakers guessing as to which tax he wanted cut. But after he announced to GOP leaders Monday that he prefers the deduction for federal taxes paid on state returns be increased, the GOP House caucus voted overwhelmingly to cut the sales - not income - tax this year.
Republican senators, along with their Democratic colleagues, then voted to spend the $19 million Bangerter wants in income tax relief on state buildings.
Bangerter stands by his tax cut, however, saying he prefers that the deduction for federal income tax paid be increased on state returns from one-third to one-half rather than reduce income tax rates or give a sales tax reduction.
But the governor told leadership he would not veto a sales tax cut, nor would he oppose other tax-cutting proposals. "It seems the governor will take whatever he can get," observed Rep. Richard Bradford, R-Sandy.
Senators once voted for, then voted against restoring the income tax deduction. In their caucuses, most of the support is for Bangerter's deduction. But enough Republicans joined with Democrats to thwart the governor's tax-cutting plan and put the money into state buildings.
House Republicans also tried to muster support for the governor's income tax proposal in their caucus, but fell far short. Twenty-seven of 40 Republicans attending the caucus voted in favor of a sales tax cut.
Bangerter wasn't openly worried. "A lot of votes still must be taken. We still have a couple of days left" in the session, he said. Bangerter said he wouldn't rule out a private visit with House and Senate Republican caucuses to push for his tax cut.
Democrats hate restoring the tax deduction. They call it the rich man's bill since it proportionately gives a bigger break to the wealthy than low-income Utahns. They and most House Republicans favor a sales tax cut.
Bangerter defended his choice of an income tax cut, saying for middle-income Utahns increasing the deduction is about the same as lowering the tax rates with the $19 million.
True, the governor said, increasing the deduction does help well-to-do Utahns more. "But you have to look at the economic development side, also." Bangerter maintains that some business owners - usually wealthy - don't like Utah's income tax structure because they are harmed by "paying a tax on a tax."
"(The federal deduction) does have some impact on economic development, we believe," he said.
But the governor will have to change Republicans' minds in the Senate and House to get that deduction, Monday's events show. Whether senators can persuade House Democrats and maverick Republicans to join them and spend the money on state buildings is yet to be seen.
The House has already passed a quarter-cent sales tax reduction that would take effect in October 1989 to cut $20 million. But Bangerter opposes a quarter-cent reduction, saying it means a $35 million tax cut the following year - money he doesn't think the state will have.
House Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, said Democrats won't vote for the income tax deduction Bangerter wants. "We want the money ($19 million) to go into the School Trust Fund where its interest will help education forever," he said.
House Minority Whip Frank Pignanelli, D-Salt Lake, put it more graphically: "We'll throw ourselves on a spear before we vote for that income tax" deduction.