Jay Evensen: Did Prop. 3 pass because Utah voters never saw the tax hike?

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  • RedShirtUofU Andoria, UT
    Feb. 15, 2019 8:10 a.m.

    To "Impartial7 " but it isn't the job of any politician to just do what the majority wants. They are supposed to act in our best interest. You see, quite often they have more information than the majority of people do, and as such they should vote using the all of the information that they have at hand. If they vote in a way that goes against what their constituents want, then they should explain why they voted the way they did.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 7:14 p.m.

    @no names

    Using the same logic you presented means the majority of people did not vote for the representatives that are changing the Medicaid initiative.

  • dulce et decorum est , 00
    Feb. 14, 2019 6:03 p.m.

    I also voted for Proposition 3 with full knowledge of the tax increase. I also had premonition that an additional reasonable further increase might be required to fully implement the proposition. I would like to think that I cast my vote in favor of Proposition 3 with a willingness to make the requisite sacrifice to extend the coverage of health care to fellow Utahns in need. To me, it seems like the legislature, in passing a bill that that costs more and covers fewer people, is more fiscally naive than the people of Utah.

  • Daniel L. Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 2:47 p.m.

    It won't matter much if the Utah legislature is able to pass a new law overriding the proposition. The state constitution empowers the state legislature to make law - a judge will not be able to rule that a new law passed by the legislature is then unconstitutional because it may override a preexisting law passed by ballot initiative. That is the constitutional power of the legislature, and it is empowered to do exactly that - pass law that overrides preexisting law.

  • One of a Few Layton, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 2:06 p.m.

    The conservative story just keeps getting loopier and loopier. First we had Obama is Bad because he lied. Now we have a convicted liar testifying before congress on behalf of the liar in Chief and conservatives defending him.
    Locally we have:
    1. Utah passed the Weed initiative because they new conservatives and the Church would fix it.
    2. Utah didn't approvethe education initiative because they weren't smart enough to understand it.
    3. Utah passed the expansion initiative because they didn't know there was a tax increase.

    Lesson, voters are window dressing for conservatives to do what they want.

  • AggieWinningTeam Woods Cross, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 1:56 p.m.

    This article is offensive in assuming we who voted yes on Prop 3 didn't know it was a increase. Shame on the author for assuming Utah voters are ignorant. Question 1 failed because it was bad policy. Gas taxes should not be used to fund education. People voted for Prop 3 did so because of compassion for the poor. The legislature is currently working on cutting the sales tax. Why not just increase the part funding the medicaid expansion the cut what you can beyond that? Why are legislators eager to hand out corporate welfare, but so against helping the least fortunate among us?

  • Guido Pescatore Layton, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 12:25 p.m.

    I'd like to think that Utah voters passed prop 3 because they are compassionate and worry for those who lack access to health care. Our legislators just demonstrated that they are devoid of such compassion.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 11:52 a.m.

    I voted yes and I was completely aware of the tax hike.

    The DN, like the Utah Legislature seems to think that Utah voters are stupid.

  • Makid Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 9:06 a.m.

    If lawmakers want this due to a lack of voter knowledge, they should also be for removing the Straight Party option and the Party information from ballots.

    This is because they are saying that the voters weren't informed before making their choice. The same should apply to any option that removes the need to research.

    Each person in the party is different from the other. Just because they are a part of the Party doesn't mean that they will follow it 100% of the time. So making people actually research what each person stands for would be better.

    It is all the same right? If you want to make it so people need to be informed about propositions, shouldn't they also be informed about the candidates?

    Maybe the ballots could provide a little background for each candidate (without including party and party words (conservative, liberal, libertarian, etc.) to summarize what they stand for. Ballots may be a little longer due to increased text but the voters would be more informed of not just the issues but also the candidates.

    Of course, this would reduce the safety of seats for both parties and politicians would actually have to work for re-election.

  • Flipphone , 00
    Feb. 14, 2019 8:49 a.m.

    I doubt that most were aware of the tax hike or just assumed that someone else would be paying for the medicaid ( which was established in the mid 1960's to provided health care to the poor) expansion. Socialism is Not FREE!

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 8:31 a.m.

    "Did Prop. 3 pass because Utah voters never saw the tax hike?"

    Definitely not.

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 7:25 a.m.

    "Oh Yes, Californian is an example of a well finical managed state."

    It is, last years surplus was almost larger then the entire state of Utah budget. May not agree with the priorities, but as so today, California is on solid financial ground.

    "If memory serves, the high speed train project in California has now been discontinued "

    Which is a shame. To those who don't travel around the world, they don't see how far behind we have become to other western nations. This project was no less challenging than was connecting London to Paris and Brussels via the Chunnel and the Eurostar. If you visit asia, you can quickly see that we have fallen hugely behind in being able to move people from point a to point b. Most Americans don't realize how far behind we currently are... we have our collective heads in the sand.

    As stated, transparency is a huge issue. We keep wanting to create narratives based on false views of our place on the global stage. Trump promised real infrastructure improvements, but nothing has been done yet. It's time for him to make this a priority.

    Jay is spot on here... voters deserve real information or they will rebel like that have here.

  • Matthew Weinstein Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 7:05 a.m.

    My sense was that the decision by the sponsors of Prop 3 to be fiscally responsible and include a funding source is actually the reason for the considerable gap between the 53% final outcome and the much higher support measured in polls before the election.

  • Zabilde Riverdale, UT
    Feb. 14, 2019 2:47 a.m.

    One point. yes CA requires Independent assessments on all props. This was put into place as a result of the disaster that is Prop 13, which to this date still greatly hampers the state's ability to collect property taxes based on current property values.

    They learned after the fact and imposed this requirement to try to avoid it. Yes the Initiative did clearly state it would increase the tax rate. But what it was missing was the assessment of whether or not that would actually pay for the program or if the state would be on the hook for much, much more (it would have been had the Legislature not acted.) That is what was missing. It passed by a narrow margin. Add just a brief explanation of the forcasted costs and I'm willing to bet it would have crashed as well.

    Oh, and NoNames, Trump won 30 states to 21(including DC), Hillary garnered 224 Electoral votes Trump had over 300. Not a one or two state win. Not quite landslide but still a significant margin.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 11:34 p.m.

    If memory serves, the high speed train project in California has now been discontinued by the governor of California because it would have been too costly.

  • Flipphone , 00
    Feb. 13, 2019 7:33 p.m.

    In California, every voter proposition requires an independent assessment of the full fiscal cost.

    Oh Yes, Californian is an example of a well finical managed state.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 6:33 p.m.

    "You didn't vote for Prop 3 because of the 138% poverty level it is supposed to cover? That really is not even high enough; it should be 250% poverty level."

    The reason 138% is selected is because that's the level at which those making less were expected to get the Medicaid expansion (since the ACA basically forces it on states but the court struck that part down) and those making above 138% (up to I think 400%) are eligible for subsidies on the exchanges. So the problem was that states that didn't expand once the court gave them the choice to say no had a hole where if you didn't make 138% you weren't eligible for subsidies but also wouldn't get Medicaid. This is to fix that issue.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 6:31 p.m.

    @Rick for Truth
    "I do not want to hear the crying of liberals and educators when they realize that there Are no longer any additional $ for education, or transportation, or any infrastructure because of this black hole of cash medical program."

    If we're in such dire fiscal straights as a state then why is the state government pushing a large tax cut?

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 6:13 p.m.

    Proposition 3 had, in bold text on the ballot... so it's the part that stands out the most aside from the heading "Initial Fiscal Impact Estimate"... the words

    "This initiative seeks to increase the current state sales tax rate by 0.15%, resulting in a 3.191% increase in the current tax rate."

    so I think people knew they were voting for a tax increase.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 5:58 p.m.

    @Impartial7: "that the majority wants"

    What majority? Fewer than 30% of registered voters voted for Prop 3. 54% voted yes, but only 55% of registered voters voted: 29.7% of registered voters. Not a majority.

    Further, Prop 3 won only in Salt Lake and Summit Counties. In the other 27 counties of the State, Prop 3 was defeated at the polls.

    Yes, Prop 3 won and became law, a regular law like any other law that the legislature can amend or repeal the next time they meet. But to claim Prop 3 somehow represents the will of the people or what a majority of Utahns want is as laughable as a Trump supporter claiming that President Trump has some massive, widespread mandate simply because he won the electoral college vote by one or two States.

    The reason the legislature feels safe making changes is that the vast majority of our legislators' constituents actually voted against Prop 3. A minority of legislators from inner-city SLC and ski-resort-elitist Park City have a huge majority of their constituents who voted for it.

    We are a republic, not a democracy. If a 60% vote can't define marriage, a 54% vote can't force the entire State to accept an unsustainable financial burden.

  • 1Reader Alpine, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 5:51 p.m.

    In California, every voter proposition requires an independent assessment of the full fiscal cost. And normally it details the funding proposal. That is obviously needed in Utah so that voters are clear that they are voting for high costs/taxes or not.

  • kvs West Jordan, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 5:14 p.m.

    I agree with Evensen that the voters have boxed themselves into a contradiction by electing and re-electing legislators who reliably legislate against the will of the majority. I will do my part in 2020 to change that, even though I am as conservative as most legislators. No more votes for Republicans until I see them being responsive to the voters.

    It's true that we live in a Republic. As I read the constitution, it's conceptually more a democratic republic, the noun and adjective as shown. Ballot initiatives are part of the Utah constitution designed to be used exactly the way they are being used. Senate terms = more republic. House terms = more democracy. Citizen initiatives = more democracy.

    The legislators have worked against their own constituents on Medicaid expansion, air pollution, education, prison move, school district divisions, etc. Then some suggest that we are not capable of reading or understanding.

  • Cheesecake Beaver, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 3:38 p.m.

    I voted for it, and I was fully aware of the tax increase. I'm happy to pay a few dollars extra in taxes each year if it means less fortunate families in Utah will have access to healthcare.

  • Bigger Bubba Herriman, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 2:16 p.m.

    I am voting against all future propositions because you never know what is hiding in the shadows with these sorts of things. Thank goodness for a legislature that reviews propositions and does what is best for Utah.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 1:31 p.m.

    "In casual conversations, he said, the people he has spoken to were surprised to learn about the tax increase."

    This may be technically true, but it is also irrelevant. I believe that 99% of supporters who didn't know about the 0.15 percent tax increase would still have voted for it because the increase is so small and the need is so great.

  • J-D Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 11:37 a.m.

    It's interesting that the final version of SB96 is very close to the intent of Prop. 3, but it's still being discussed as mostly a re-write and repeal of Prop. 3.

    The lesson for the legislature is that they should have just done a clean repeal of Prop. 3 because that's what you're getting blamed for. Would've been better policy.

  • conservativeme1 West Valley City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 11:29 a.m.

    Here's a declaration for all voters who think we are a democracy and that the majority vote should rule...We are a REPUBLIC not a Democracy. We have a representative form of government. Just because a majority wants to vote for something, doesn't mean it will become law. Do you really want to live in that society? You won't like it if you have to live by majority votes when you're the minority. That's why we elect representatives who are part of the Legislature. I see so many comments about how the Legislature didn't listen to the "will of the majority". Prop 2 and 3 both needed to go to the Legislature to be fixed. There were problems with both propositions. That's why we elect representatives. We are a Republic, do you understand?

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 11:28 a.m.


    You didn't vote for Prop 3 because of the 138% poverty level it is supposed to cover? That really is not even high enough; it should be 250% poverty level.

    Do you realize that the "Federal Poverty" level is based on an average across the country. It doesn't take into account the "Cost of Living" for each area.

    When was the last time you tried to live on $17,236/year dollars (138%) anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley (I see you identified as living in Kearns); let alone have enough money left over to pay for healthcare?

    The median home price in Kearns is $253,400 -- even at an extremely low 3% interest rate over 30 years the monthly mort. payment would be $1,068 plus more for tax and insurance (that is over 74% income). There is no possible way for someone even at 138% poverty to live anywhere in this valley and even have enough for housing let alone food or healthcare. If anything; Medicaid should be expanded in Utah to cover up to 250% the federal poverty level based on Utah's Cost of Living.

    I make more than twice the "poverty level" yet I cannot afford healthcare for myself and have had to go into major debt for my wife's healthcare even with "insurance."

  • JasonStevenson Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 11:23 a.m.

    Let's check primary sources.
    This is what the fourth paragraph of the Proposition #3 section of the Utah November 2018 ballot said.
    Note: This section was also bolded.
    "This initiative seeks to raise the current sales tax rate by 0.15%, resulting in a 3.191% increase in the current tax rate."

    Plus, there was this seventh paragraph (not bolded):
    "Increase sate sales taxes by about $90,000,000 by increasing the state sales tax rate by 0.15% from 4.70% to 4.85% (a 3.2% increase from the current tax rate)."

    Hiding in plain sight?

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 10:50 a.m.

    My take: First I voted against the gas tax hike; mainly because legally (under state statute) the gas tax CANNOT be used for education; it rather must be used for transportation (like road maintenance).

    So, it was falsely billed for education. As if the legislature is saying "do it for the children" when they know full well it will never and cannot ever be used for the children. Just a way of social engineering the voters to vote for it. I believe most voters saw through the deception.

    As for the Prop 3, Medicaid expansion, I voted for it knowing that it was supposed to raise taxes (yes that was posted in plenty of news articles). It wasn't that I wanted taxes raised; but that I do care about people. Every single time I also mention we need to pass meaningful healthcare reform to actually bring the costs of healthcare down (so that we don't need tax increases). Not to mention that Prop 3 was only to do what the supreme law of the land (yes federal laws trump state laws) requires through the ACA -- that our state government has been dragging its feet on for over a decade now.

    Just one of many thousands of examples of Utah government considering themselves above the law.

  • tabuno Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 10:33 a.m.

    These are all valid points, but it is also important to respect the people's wishes and if the State Legislature like a stern parent continues to protect the public from their own bad decisions, voters will never learn to be more informed or careful on how they vote. By the State Legislature taking this paternal approach to law-making only perpetuates the dumbing down of the average voter who doesn't get to accept some of the responsibility of what might be poor decisions as well as good decisions on their part. The problem is not that the initiative process overall is poor, it is that legislators treat voters like young children instead of perhaps adolescents or young adults when it comes to politics. It's time to give the average voter more responsibility and discretion in terms of their ability to vote in some informed way. There needs to be more public involvement, more public dissemination of pertinent information in deliberating over public initiatives and referendums, more mass media coverage on television, radio, and newsprint, not after the fact impulsive, fast-tracked, almost hidden attempts to pass legislation by the State Legislature overriding the public's voices.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 10:28 a.m.

    I actually read the Prop 3 text, and I knew about the tax hike. Only one of the reasons I voted no on that and all other props.

    There are a myriad of other reasons such as the 138% of poverty level not to vote for it either.

  • There You Go Again St George, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 10:30 a.m.

    Never saw the tax hike?


    Tax break for corporations?

    No problem.

    Help for people who need medical assistance?

    Big problem.

  • Brad Peterson South Ogden, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 10:08 a.m.

    This change is absolutely needed. People must know the true costs. Prop 3 was doubly dishonest in that it hid a tax increase and suggested that tax was enough to pay for Medicaid expansion. I doubt 53% would have voted for Prop 3 had they known it would both raise taxes and run an $83 million deficit by 2025.

    That also greatly helps in the last point of this op-ed:

    >how to get lawmakers to at least honor the intent of what they pass at the ballot box

    Prop 3 was a contradiction. Lawmakers can't honor the intent, because blocs of voters wanted incompatible things. There was no one "will of the people." There were several in that contradictory mess. Lawmakers had to pick one or two of those several options to make the expansion work. That made most people angry that their intent wasn't chosen.

  • Rick for Truth Provo, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 9:59 a.m.

    Prop 3 passes barely because the MSM made sure that little to no press was published about runaway costs, and continuous tax increases that it will generate. You can multiply by 3 to 4 projected costs, with no end in sight.

    Even the decreased new state legislator boondoggle is beyond and unaffordable, depending on federal funds that can disappear at any time without notice, leaving Utah taxpayers holding the uncontrollable bill.

    I do not want to hear the crying of liberals and educators when they realize that there Are no longer any additional $ for education, or transportation, or any infrastructure because of this black hole of cash medical program.

  • tahnl Francis, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 9:47 a.m.

    Why would the legislature take such a condescending attitude that the voter didn't know or understand what they voted for? The voter isn't as stupid as the Utah legislators seem to assume.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Feb. 13, 2019 9:45 a.m.

    "Many lawmakers (not all) have a storied history of disliking the little piece of direct democracy known as the citizen initiative process. They view it as the philosophical fast-lane to California, the poster child for endless government-choking ballot initiatives."

    If lawmakers would actually do their jobs and pass legislation that the majority wants, expanded Medicaid, Medical Marijuana, Clean air, Government Honesty, etc., then there wouldn't be a need for ballot initiatives. This is a result of their own creation. THEY are responsible for the citizen backlash that leads to ballot initiatives.