Supporters of removing the sales tax from food will gather in Ogden Saturday at the first Tax Limitation Coalition rally since the group's first attempt at reducing taxes at the polls failed last November.
"We want to try to buoy the efforts of the troops," said Danny Blaylock, chairman of the coalition's Weber County chapter. "A lot of these people are just plain burned out."Blaylock, along with coalition leaders Merrill Cook and Greg Beesley, will try to fire them back up with speeches at the noon rally on the steps of the county's municipal building.
A banner will proclaim, "Let them eat tax-free," and signs with similar sentiments are being painted. But it remains to be seen whether the coalition can stir up the level of enthusiasm shown in past rallies.
Thousands of Utahns gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to protest tax increases in 1987 and to show their support for three tax-cutting initiatives.
The coalition was responsible for gathering enough petition signatures to get those initiatives on the 1988 general election ballot. The three measures were defeated in every county, making their strongest showing in Weber County.
After the election, the coalition regrouped. Cook, who unsuccessfully ran for governor on a platform supporting the initiatives, has tried to bring in Democrats and the Utah AFL-CIO.
The three unlikely groups are all interested in taking the sales tax off food purchases, a proposal that generated little interest in the Republican-dominated Legislature last session.
A second proposal, to use the initiative process to raise the state's minimum wage from its current level of $2.30, has caused a rift between the Weber County coalition chapter and both Democrats and labor.
As a result of a chapter vote not to endorse the proposed initiative to boost the state's minimum wage, only the initiative dealing with the sales tax on food will be introduced at the Saturday rally.
The rally will be the first time the public sees the initiative, which is expected to receive a final stamp of approval from the Lt. Governor's office on Thursday.
The initiative petition has already passed a review by the state Attorney General's office and will be ready to circulate among Utah voters once it has been given the final nod from the Lt. Governor's office.
The coalition has until June 8, 1990 to gather the nearly 65,000 signatures required on the initiative petition to qualify it for a spot on the next general election ballot, in November 1990.
Horiuchi breaks alliance
State Democratic Party Chairman Randy Horiuchi announced Wednesday he was "putting on hold" efforts to align the party with tax limitation advocates on a proposed initiative to remove the sales tax from food.
Horiuchi and Utah State AFL-CIO president Ed Mayne had been meeting with supporters of last year's failed tax initiative. Horiuchi said Wednesday apparent distrust by establishment Democrats toward the Tax Limitation Coalition made the alliance "very tenuous.
"In an attempt to minimize divisiveness in our great party, I am putting on hold any further action to build a coalition . . . I will ask Democrats to use their own judgment and personal feelings when approached on signing sales-tax-off-food petitions," he said.