Utah Legislature adjourns after closing budget gap, passing ethics reforms

Legislators fill budget gap, hike tobacco tax

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  • Utdomino
    March 18, 2010 1:18 p.m.

    Governor Herbert is making his decision to sign or veto the current bill that would increase the cost of a pack of cigarettes over a $1.00. That’s over a $10.00 a carton increase. He is asking for people to call his office secretary at 801-538-1000 and let her know if they oppose or approve the tax increase. They do not want personal information. They only want to know if you approve or oppose.
    If you would like to take this final opportunity given, please call the number and pass this information on to others.

  • Tractor Duck
    March 13, 2010 8:06 a.m.

    It is not that they are bad people, it is just that
    many of the Majority Republicans are so far right they are in reactionary la, la land.

    They need to be made a Minority. They have no concept on what their actions or inactions do in terms of negative affects on average Utah citizens.

    Help Needed in November, and before then, to turn our state into a more hospitable habitat for the middle class and the poor. This is not a joke; the actions of reactionaries in the Legislature this year were beyond a joke.

    Remember in November; lets get our train back on the track and our people out from under perhaps the most regressive tax structure in the Nation.

  • Tactor Duck
    March 12, 2010 11:03 p.m.

    Look again. The average person is being put in virtually a 'company store' construct by our reactionary legislators. The tax base is inequitable and getting worse.

    Good work 'with what they had to work with' ? What they had to work with led to a real cut of 5 percent in education where we were already the lowest in the nation in terms of expenditures per pupil.

    They would have had more to work with if they had asked the mollycoddled rich to pay their fair, progressive share of income taxes. But no, that was not done. 1, 2, 3, " I owe my soul to the Legislative store..."

    Time we quit kidding ourselves and made wholesale changes before the realtors, bankers, developers, and sage brush caucus put the middle class in the poor house. Wake up Utahns, then Remember in November.

  • taxpayer
    March 12, 2010 9:05 p.m.

    Our elected officials have failed. Anyone can balance a budget, we all do it every day. They cut areas that were already operating on the.. "do more with less plan". Now we all need to take our birth certificates & utility bills to get a drivers license. Do you really think an illegal alien cares about a drivers license or car insurance?
    The rich will be able to hunt in a state park, new roads will be built and if we, the taxpayers, want to comment on a proposed public resource plan we can pay $300 to comment, and the rainy day fund continues to grow.
    Who will want to work for this great state? People that don't plan on retiring here...remeber that when you need a state service or an answer to your question at a state agency.
    Our elected officails all have medical coverage and a retirement, NOT future state employees or teachers.
    I'll vote accordingly in November.

  • Sherry L.
    March 12, 2010 3:59 p.m.

    Legislators are like junior high students that constantly run for student body office. Their ego is only exceeded by their arrogance. Now that they are adults the arrogance turns to narcicissm and the private citizen gets to pay the bill. Term limits for all elected officials and no monetary benefits, that will show who is really a public servant and who is in it for the money and fame.

  • Lisa
    March 12, 2010 2:09 p.m.

    Why are we paying for employees' pension plans?? Who still has pension plans? Other than unions, that is. State employes can contribue to 401(K) plans like the rest of us.

  • RE: Frontier
    March 12, 2010 1:19 p.m.

    Sure there are great individuals working as legislators and it is great you have had an opportunity to know of their hard work and sacrifices. But it has nothing to do with what great guys they are....it has to do with a double standard they set when they expect everyone else to take a hit on retirement, benefits, and even their jobs, but will not reduce their own salaries because if they did, it would lower the incentives that attract qualified individuals to represent the state of Utah. Aren't they public servants? Then please.....serve the public.

  • Frontier
    March 12, 2010 12:40 p.m.

    Please be careful about criticizing legislators. While there are always character casualties and exceptions, they are overwhelmingly decent, concerned public servants who suffer significant personal and financial strain to serve. There seems to be a presumption that legislators receive enough perks to offset the time and trouble and income loss they suffer while serving. They don't. It is a demanding job that goes on throughout the year, not just during the 45 day sessions, with time, travel, and loss of personal time, not to mention the perils of public scrutiny and life in the fishbowl. Most legislators suffer serious financial losses due to their participation, as they could easily make more than the nominal salaries they receive. Journalists never run stories on the sacrifices made, but always on the occasional mis-steps

    Do we want the most capable and ethical people in those seats? Certainly. Are they human and do they err? Sometimes. While neither a lobbyist nor legislator, I have watched the process close up for many years and still come away impressed with the representation we receive and the work they do. Please accept a sincere "Thank You" for your service.

  • RE: Ok with their salary
    March 12, 2010 11:08 a.m.

    First of all, legislators choose to run for the office and receive the salary that is offered. (Gee...doesn't that sound just like what teachers, firefighters, police, etc. have been told when they complain about wages? "You chose that line of work") Second, legislators know going in that there is the possiblity that they may take a hit on their income for the two months that they do what they do. And third, what about all those perks? Jazz tickets, dinners, insurance, retirement....on and on. Don't feel sorry for their having to take a leave of absence from their jobs and the lack of income....they get theirs and make sure they do. The salary is a big thing and I won't leave it alone.

  • Ok with their salary
    March 12, 2010 8:49 a.m.

    The legislators have to take a leave of absense from their jobs to be a legislature for the two months. If I ran for office and was a legislature, there is no way I could afford to do that for two months. So the salary thing is not a big deal. I work for someone, and do not own my own business, so why I was away, my paycheck from my employer would stop.

    Let it alone.

  • Thanks again....
    March 12, 2010 8:04 a.m.

    What wasn't mentioned was the fact that legislators did not raise their own salaries, and opted for a salary cap instead of a decrease. As reported on Fox News Wednesday night, legislators felt that it would not be in the best interests of the state if they(the legislators)decreased their salaries due to the fact that they (the legislators) did want to attract a lesser-caliber of candidate to run for office. How does this "double standard" compare to what they (the legislators)did to the future hiring of public service employees now that they (the legislators) abolished the one incentive (retirement benefits) from all new employees wanting to become public service employees? Good luck on hiring highly qualified police, firefighters,teachers,etc. on low wages and no benefits! Thanks again to Mr.(s) Liljenquist, Dee, Stephenson, and Garn. But not to worry, we will always keep our standards high for those who represent us on the hill! Pat yourselves once again on the back for a job well done, boys!

  • Thankful!
    March 12, 2010 7:51 a.m.

    That year after year the legislature does as well as it can with what it has to work with in balancing the state budget. Look at the rest of the country and say thanks that we live in the Intermountain West and have conservative legislators who plan so very well for the future. I appreciate their hard work. This budget is for a year starting July 1, 2010 and ending June 30, 2011 and it is prepared with very accurate forecasting given the volatility of the national economy. Very remarkable work.

  • Tractor Duck
    March 12, 2010 7:12 a.m.

    Raising the Cigarette tax was a regressive move no matter how you rationalize it. That is not where the real money is.

    The least regressive potential source for revenue would have been raising taxes in the higher income brackets. These same people, $250,000 and up, have received windfall gains the last 10 years tax wise, while their shares of the income pie have sky rocketed upwards.

    At least House Rules let Rep. Brian King's bill, H B 90, on taxing the rich out for a brief but heated hearing by the Revenue and Taxation Committee.

    Oh well, we can always go fishing. But wait, you better be very careful where you go. Do not be confused, H B 141 is not a 'Steam Access' bill, it is a 'Stream Closing' bill like Rep Lorie Fowlke's
    more balanced H B 80 would have been.

    Will 141 build antagonisms? Are you kidding?

    REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER, we have got to put some NEW FACES in the Legislature if we expect to get either more Equitable Taxation or Better Access to State Waters on private land.

  • Anonymous
    March 12, 2010 1:44 a.m.

    Smoke up people!