Utahns generally approve of the job state legislators and Gov. Norm Bangerter did during the last session, which ended two weeks ago, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
Pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that 60 percent of the 607 people interviewed believe the Legislature performed about the same as last year's, 65 percent approve of how Bangerter handled the session, while 62 percent gave lawmakers a favorable approval rating.The session was one of the least controversial in recent memory. Senate Minority Leader Rex Black, D-Salt Lake, said fewer heated issues cropped up this year than in the 17 years he's been in the Senate.
Bangerter, a former House speaker, got most of what he wanted from lawmakers - which reflects in his legislative job approval rating. But he failed in his two top items: freezing property taxes and cutting taxes by $19 million.
Local governments and school districts promised not to raise property tax rates this year, and Bangerter settled for that promise for now. He still says he'll seek a tax freeze in some form later from the Legislature.
Bangerter thought the Republican-controlled House and Senate would go along with his $19 million tax cut plan. But senators balked. They wanted to increase the deduction for federal taxes paid on state returns while House members wanted to cut the sales tax or trim the income tax rate.
A last-day fight over how the state would pay for new buildings led to a stalemate in the Senate over the tax cut, and the $19 million was left unspent.
Bangerter says he will either ask lawmakers to cut taxes by that amount in a special session later this year or ask for a larger tax reduction in the 1990 general session.
Jones found that citizens didn't differentiate between Republican and Democratic lawmakers' performances. Fifty-eight percent said GOP lawmakers did well in the session, 56 percent said Democratic lawmakers performed well.
How would you rate the performance of the Utah Legislature?
Strongly approve 5 percent
Somewhat approve 57 percent
Somewhat disapprove 19 percent
Strongly disapprove 10 percent
Don't know 9 percent
How would you rate Gov. Norm Bangerter in his handling of the Legislature?
Strongly aprove 15%
Somewhat approve 50%
Somewhat disapprove 17%
Strongly disapprove 14%
Don't know 4%