Atop the House's floor calendar are two bills, SB220 and SB47, which stare down on the 75 representatives like large birds with hungry yellow eyes, seeking $5.2 million.
In the next two days of the 1998 Legislature, GOP legislative leaders will find a way to pay for the two research and development income tax credit bills - all in the hope of attracting new, high-tech companies to Utah.Tops on the feeding list is Intel, maker of the hugely popular, and profitable, Pentium computer processor.
As reported previously in the Deseret News, Intel is looking around Utah for upwards of 100 acres - land upon which the chip maker could locate a research and development "campus" that could employ upwards of 8,000 researchers and scientists.
House Assistant Majority Whip John Valentine, R-Orem, is the House pointman in finding a way to pay for the bills.
Tuesday, Intel was on Capitol Hill dealing with Valentine and the bills' sponsors, Sens. Craig Peterson, R-Orem, and Howard Nielson, R-Provo.
Edward Ekstrom, Intel vice president for small business and networking communications group, said the chip maker is interested in getting laws passed that help the manufacturing and research and development climate in Utah.
"We're already here (in Utah), many people don't know that," said Ekstrom, who added he wouldn't comment on any plans Intel may have in expanding in Utah. Intel has 500 people employed now in research and development activities in American Fork.
Ekstrom came armed with a comparison of how research and development incentives are in place in surrounding Western states. His information shows that Oregon, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and Washington are all more competitive in attracting high-tech industries - facts that have not been lost on Utah GOP legislative leaders.
For example, Oregon, Arizona and California all have income tax credits for research and development. California's is at 11 percent, while the Utah bill is only at 6 percent.
New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada give sales tax breaks for research and development, Ekstrom's sheet shows.
"We want these bills to pass," Valentine said Tuesday morning. He predicted they will pass before midnight Wednesday, the final day of the 1998 session. Valentine said a press conference may be held Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday announcing a compromise "between all parties involved" over a solution.
"Problem is, how do we pay for them two years down the road?" he said.
SB220 gives a 6 percent income tax credit for the purchase of research and development equipment, mainly computers and software. It costs $70,000 in fiscal year 1998-99 and $2 million in fiscal year 1999-2000.
SB47 gives up to a 6 percent income tax credit for research and development activities. It costs $70,000 in fiscal year 1998-99 and $3.2 million in fiscal year 1999-2000.
Valentine says he's looking at taking part or all of the costs from the current manufacturers' sales tax exemption; phasing-in SB220 and SB47 so the fiscal impacts on the state are less severe than a $5.2 million hit all at once; or to prove that research and development activity brings in more tax dollars than it costs, and then put the tax incentives in place.
Ekstrom clearly doesn't want to harm the current manufacturers' exemption - which the Utah Manufacturers Association has already warned it would vigorously oppose.
"We want to keep the 100 percent manufacturer's exemption," Ekstrom said. "But Intel is very interested" in seeing the two tax incentive bills pass, adding "we're strongly in favor of the measures."