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Utah lawmaker proposes carbon tax to fund free transit, rural projects

Posted at 2:36 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 18:24:45-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A state senator is proposing a carbon tax that he said would earmark funds for free transit, eliminating the sales tax on food and funding rural Utah development projects.

Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, said he is proposing legislation for a carbon tax that would charge a penny more per kilowatt hour and 12 cents more per gallon of gasoline. In an interview with FOX 13 News on Wednesday, Sen. Kitchen said the money would go to ensuring public transit is free in the state, eliminating the state portion of the sales tax on groceries and fund rural Utah economic incentive projects.

He announced the bill during a news conference of the bipartisan "Clean Air Caucus," which runs bills on air quality legislation. Other bills introduced include road user miles for electric vehicles to pay for road repairs, incentives to get people to buy electric vehicles, and another ambitious bill to cut Utah's emissions by 2030.

But Sen. Kitchen's carbon tax may not have good odds in a Republican supermajority legislature where leadership has settled on an income tax cut and remains unwilling to consider eliminating the state portion of the sales tax on food.

Sen. Kitchen suggested that even if the bill fails to advance this year, he will bring it back.

"It's ambitious legislation but that’s what we are here to do at the state Capitol. We’re supposed to be looking forward, making sure we are creating policy that impacts the quality of life of every person in the state of Utah," Sen. Kitchen said. "So I think we’re on the right track. This is very ambitious and we may not get it all the way across the finish line this year. But the point is here is to bring people into the tent, figure out what works, what doesn’t work and create something that has long-lasting positive impact for the state of Utah."