Although Utah still has some room to become a more pluralistic society, the notion that the state is a mere Mormon monolith is simply not true, Gov. Norm Bangerter says.
"I think we have addressed those issues," the governor said during his monthly news conference at KUED, Channel 7. "I think there are efforts being made to be a more pluralistic society."The governor was reacting to recent news reports that out-of-state business people are sometimes reluctant to come to the state because of the perception that the state is dominated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See related story below.)
Bangerter, who is a Mormon, admitted his
view of the state is not completely unbiased. But he said the fact that companies such as McDonnell Douglas, Kimberly Clark, American Express and Stauffer Chemical Co. have chosen to come to Utah indicates the so-called "Mormon factor" is more myth than reality. "I think we are" pluralistic, Bangerter said, "but I think we still have some work in getting that message out."
In fact, he said, many executives say they came to Utah because it presents distinct advantages. Aside from the state's beauty and cultural attractions, the governor said, the executives also found that Utah's work force is 25-30 percent more productive than in some other parts of the country.
"The bottom line is that their companies are more productive," Bangerter said. "So I don't find it (the state) to be a hard-sell."
On other issues, Bangerter said he is still open to holding a special session to reform Utah's income tax laws.
"There's been some negative impact on economic development because of the high bracket," the governor conceded.
However, he said the actual impact of the tax increases passed by the 1987 Legislature won't be known for sure until after April 15 when all tax returns are filed. At that point, if it becomes clear that the problems remain, the governor said he would likely call a special session.
But the governor stood resolutely behind the need for the tax increase he proposed in 1987. He said the amount he budgeted was necessary to address the needs of the state and he would not be amenable to dropping taxes to a level below what is necessary to meet those needs.
Bangerter said he did not think calling a special session to deal with taxes would add to the momentum building for tax protesters, who are circulating petitions to have the 1987 tax increases rolled back. Bangerter said the only thing that would fuel the tax protest is if it turned out that the tax increases brought in more money than was necessary and if the state kept the extra.
"My view is if we took more than we needed, that would fuel the tax protest and it should," he said.