A prominent, retiring state senator is blasting Taxpayers for Utah for using what he says are scare tactics and false information in its fight against proposed tax reform initiatives.

Sen. Ivan Matheson, R-Cedar City, said a letter the group distributed recently at party caucuses incorrectly said tax initiatives could force the closure of two state colleges, and would not allow such capital improvements as replacing heating systems and improving playgrounds.That letter was signed for Taxpayers for Utah by prominent Republicans Warren Pugh and Wallace Bennett and Democrats Scott M. Matheson and Calvin L. Rampton.

Ivan Matheson wrote those leaders, saying, "I think it inappropriate that you have taken the liberty to determine where tax cuts would come if the initiative referendums pass this fall. . . . The public must be informed that it is the Legislature that will make the decisions."

Matheson said comments about having no money for capital improvements "seems irresponsible," and those about closing colleges are "highly unfounded."

"You know, as well as I, that we are not going to close those institutions. We may have to institute some efficiencies and strip some programs."

He added, "After having served in the Legislature for 12 years, I am fully aware that a tightening of the belt in our institutions of learning can occur and does not have to weaken the programs as much as you indicated. Particularly in institutions such as the University of Utah and Utah State, there is top-heavy administration structure that could be trimmed."

He said that before leaders say they may close colleges, "we need to have backbones enough to go into these institutions and require steps be taken that would accommodate efficiencies.

"I am a little tired of having people on my back because they have been told we are going to close institutions such as Southern Utah State College, Dixie College, College of Eastern Utah and Snow College when this will not occur even though a tightening of the belt must occur."

He concluded, "I think you people ought to have integrity enough to stop putting out innuendoes and misinformation that become scare tactics to the public. If you are going to push this kind of program, which I think is fine, please at least be factual about the information presented."

Matheson has announced that he is not seeking re-election this term.