SALT LAKE CITY — On Utah's Capitol Hill, they're talking taxes.
With record revenues and surpluses, there's a lot of pressure to give some money back. The Senate has approved a one percent income tax cut which, for the average family of four making $72,000 a year, equates to $98 a year back.
"We’ve been advocating since the spring for a large income tax rate cut. We think there’s plenty of revenue to do it," said Rusty Cannon, the president of the Utah Taxpayers Association.
But going lower is unlikely, House Speaker Brad Wilson said in an interview with FOX 13 News.
"It’s a pretty significant income tax cut when you add the $100 million last year, the $160 million this year and doing more on top of that for other groups. I think it’s unlikely we’ll do another reduction of just the income tax, but there’s always next year," he said.
One idea that's fighting to be heard in the legislature is a proposal to eliminate the state portion of the sales tax on food. Rep. Judy Weeks Rohner, R-West Valley City, is running one of two bills seeking to do that.
"Regardless of what we do, we need to remove the food tax. It’s imperative. We’ve got people out here that are unable to really support themselves and the food tax? Look at the people that are on the street. Families. If we could just lessen the tax a little bit it might mean the difference for them paying rent. We’ve got a lot of working poor out on the streets. Let’s help everybody," she said.
But Republican leaders in the legislature seem unwilling to consider it this year. Speaker Wilson hinted this week it could be considered down the road.
"Really the conversation is centering around is there something we can do for those that at the lower-end of the income scale," he said. "An earned income tax credit, something for those on social security and i think you’ll see some enhancements to the Senate bill that focus on those groups."
If nothing happens, there have been whispers of a citizen ballot initiative.
"I'm not going to leave anything off the table," said Rep. Weeks Rohner, who came to office after sponsoring a citizen referendum to undo the legislature's ambitious 2019 tax reform measures.
Rep. Rosemary Lesser, D-Ogden, who is sponsoring the other bill to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries, said "ballot initiatives are always possible."
"I would prefer we get through this with legislative initiatives. I never want to minimize the importance of implementing democracy in our state, we have used ballot initiatives before, but i actually prefer the traditional method that we have in place our legislature," she said.