To the editor:
Glen Davis recently wrote that he was incensed by taxpayer money spent on Gov. Bangerter's "Utah, a pretty, great state" campaign. Mr. Davis also charged that Utah is a pretty "high taxed" state which is driving businesses into bankruptcy or encouraging them to move to neighboring "tax friendly" states.Clarification of the data cited by Mr. Davis is in order.
- Utah taxes are above the national average. In 1986, Utah was 8th nationwide in state and local taxes per personal income, 11 percent above the national average. However, Utah is first in the number of school-age children per working population, 57 percent above the national average. Utah is 32nd in taxes spent per capita, 17 percent below the national average.
- Business taxes are not high in Utah. The Utah business share of major state taxes is lower than five of the 10 western states.
- Property taxes in Utah are not high. Property taxes per household are 6 percent below the national average.
- State and local government debt in Utah is not the third highest, per capita, in the United States. Mr. Davis' figures include debt of the Intermountain Power Project, paid for by Californians.
As a percent of revenue, state and local debt in Utah is 8 percent below the national average. Utah enjoys the highest bond rating from both major rating agencies. That rating evidences Utah's conservative fiscal management. Only six other states, all east of the Mississippi, have such a rating.
- The out-migration Utah has experienced is related almost entirely to two industries - mining and construction. Both industries have hit hard times because of international forces - not because of any state actions. Utah's employment growth rate is well above the national average for the 1980's. In the last 2 1/2 years, over 40 companies have come to Utah, creating nearly 5,700 jobs.
Negative attitudes like those of Mr. Davis are the reason the Utah Pride campaign is necessary. The campaign, incidentally, is directed by, and much of the funding comes from, the private sector.
Many of Utah's most vocal and optimistic advocates are those who have relocated here. Directors of McDonnel Douglas, AT&T and Fidelity Investments, firms that have opened operations in Utah, recently shared their feelings about Utah.
They stated that we are our own worst enemy. We dwell on the negative. We portray a bad image. The advantages in Utah far outweigh the disadvantages. That is why those major companies have come here. Utah is a very attractive state to business.
It is time we who live in Utah take pride in Utah. Utah is a pretty, great state.
Dale C. Hatch
State Office of Planning and Budget