Most Utahns think the $110 million state revenue surplus should be kept by the state as reserves or spent on education, a new Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
Also, most Utahns don't think the state should help make up money lost to depositors of the five failed thrifts and loans, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found.Both the surplus and the thrifts will appear on Tuesday's special legislative agenda, although it was doubtful last week if the thrift issue can be resolved.
In a poll completed June 29, Jones found that 40 percent of those questioned want the state surplus, estimated at $110 million, to go to education. Another 16 percent want the money saved for future state needs. Added together, that's 56 percent who favor the state keeping the money.
But Gov. Norm Bangerter and a number of legislators want to return at least $80 million of the surplus.
The governor wants to give back $80 million in surplus state income tax collections as a cash rebate: $10 or 12.5 percent of a taxpayer's 1987 income tax bill, which ever is greater. Since Bangerter is up for re-election this year, some Democrats are saying he's trying to buy votes. Bangerter said last year he'd return any extra tax revenue and says now he's only keeping his promise.
Bangerter also wants to give $10 million of the surplus to education and keep $20 million in the state's "rainy day fund" to be used in emergencies.
Jones found that only 16 percent of Utahns want a cash rebate, which would be given before November's general election. Twelve percent want the money returned via a credit on their 1988 income taxes, paid in April 1989. Add those two together and only 28 percent want the money returned.
Thirteen percent wanted something else done with the money, and 2 percent didn't know what they wanted done with it, Jones found.
Democrats in the state House and Senate don't want to return the money now via a rebate. They prefer waiting and giving the money back as an income tax credit.
Asked what should be done with the ongoing revenue surplus, mainly generated in the income tax, Jones found that 31 percent want their income tax rates lowered this tax year, 23 percent want the sales tax lowered, 22 percent want the deduction for federal income tax restored to the state income tax, 4 percent want a deduction on state income tax for Social Security paid and 1 percent want a deduction on state income tax for state sales tax paid.
Nine percent wanted the ongoing surplus handled in some other fashion, and 10 percent didn't know how that surplus should be dealt with.
To give a permanent reduction in the state income tax to deal with the ongoing surplus, Bangerter suggests lower state income tax rates by 5 percent and restoring a third of the deduction for federal income taxes paid.
House Majority Leader Nolan Karras, R-Roy, says he believes GOP lawmakers, who hold majorities in both houses, will go along with Bangerter's cash rebate/ongoing income tax reduction plan.
Asking about the thrift problem, Jones found that 50 percent of Utahns don't believe the state should contribute money to restore savings lost by depositors. Forty percent think the state should participate and 10 percent don't know.
Of the 40 percent who believe the state should kick in some money, most think the depositors should get only their principal back, no interest and no money for their attorneys' fees.
Also, of the 40 percent who want the state to help the depositors, 30 percent favor a state bond to aid the depositors, 25 percent want to take it out of the surplus, 21 percent want to take it out of general tax revenues, 4 percent want to get the money from somewhere else and 20 percent didn't know where to get the money.
What do you think should be done with the estimated $110 million state surplus this year?
Cash rebate 16 percent
Credit on 1988 income tax 12 percent
Keep for future needs 16 percent
Give to education 40 percent
Other 13 percent
Don't know 2 percent
What do you think should be done with the ongoing state revenue surplus?
Restore federal deduction 22 percent
Deduction for SS paid 4 percent
Deduction for sales tax paid 1 percent
Lower state income tax rate 31 percent
Lower sales tax rate 23 percent
Other 9 percent
Don't know 10 percent
Should the state help make up the money lost by depositors in the five failed thrifts and loans?
Definitely should 15 percent
Probably should 25 percent
Probably should not 17 percent
Definitely should not 33 percent
Don't know 10 percent
If you think the state should make up the money, what should depositors get back?
Deposits only 53 percent
Deposits plus interest 22 percent
Deposits, interest & legal fees 14 percent
Other 7 percent
Don't know 4 percent
If you think the state should make up the money, where should it come from?
State bond 30 percent
Surplus 25 percent
General tax revenue 21 percent
Other 4 percent
Don't know 20 percent
Sample size: 603; margin of error plus or minus 4 percent