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Guest Editorial

Governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr.

It is time for a fundamental reform of our state’s tax code. As governor, I am looking out for the best interest of Utah citizens, businesses and education by seeking a lower income tax rate with a flatter, fairer distribution of tax burden. In Utah, we have a unique situation, where every penny paid in income taxes goes into the Uniform School Fund to pay for education. That revenue base is declining, because of a loophole-filled tax code. At the same time, we have become the nation’s fifth fastest-growing state with unprecedented educational needs.

We advocate true reform: A tax code that is simpler; one that provides for the needs of the state consistently and from a broader base; and one that is competitive with the states around us and compassionate to those bearing the burden. There’s no reason we can’t make meaningful tax reform a reality.

I am supporting House Bill 354, now moving through the Utah State Legislature. This bill will lower the income rate from seven percent to five percent and remove sales tax on food.

The essence of this reform means long-term, dependable revenue, free of the economic volatility that our current system is beholden to. This instability impacts our children’s education, our families’ strength and our communities’ livelihood. The goal is to stabilize the tax base and make Utah more economically competitive.

The critics look for winners and losers, but the problem isn’t that simple. To say that there are winners or losers by changing the system means that the current program is perfect. It is not. It is broken and must be fixed.

The income tax reform we are seeking is not cosmetic. We’re not talking about tax rebates and winning a popularity contest in November. I am not proposing a giveaway. There are plans out there that would simply drop the rate without addressing the deductions and other critical components of our antiquated tax code. This is not true reform. This will not lend itself to long-term problem solving, but will only give rise to the possibility of a future tax increase to make up for what was lost.

We are at a time of opportunity where we can truly make a difference in the overall well being of our state’s economic future. The tax code is ready for a historic change, and we are prepared to make the changes and the hard decisions that will better serve our long-term interest as a state.


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