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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

HB 4001: Transportation

The Utah Senate just passed the Transportation Bill, 24 to 5, with a few minor amendments.

[Update 7:10 p.m.] The House of Representatives concurred with the Senate amendments. This bill passed both bodies with the 2/3 majority needed to make it effective immediately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

1-day session ‘monumental’ say legislators ‘monumental’ say legislators

Tom Busselberg
DAVIS COUNTY — Tuesday at the Capitol was a day well spent, at least in the opinion of Senate Majority Whip Dan Eastman, R-Bountiful. “I feel very good about it,” he said of the special session called by the Governor. “We made an effort to do with the tax code something we’ve talked about ever since I came to the Legislature.”

It included giving a small tax cut, about $50 per family, as well as options for taxpayers in choosing which income tax method will benefit them most in completing their 2007 forms.

Taxpayers can pay a flat-rate income tax of 5.35 percent with no deductions.

“It certainly gives the businesses that are looking at Utah an option, makes us competitive with surrounding states in terms of income tax,” Eastman said.

“It will give people the option with the flat tax. This has even gained some national attention,” he said.

“It is unbelievably significant for Davis County,” said Rep. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, of Tuesday’s action.

Legislators gave county commissions across the state an opportunity to place a quarter-of-a-cent sales tax option on the ballot for their voters to decide if it should be implemented.

“Any local option revenue stream for roads does two things for the county,” Adams explained. “We’re the smallest county geographically in the state, the most densely populated.

“So when we have a local option tax, we have a very significant benefit to the county. We have fewer road miles, but that dense population means it gives a great return to Davis County,” Adams said.

Instead of half or more of gas tax for roads going for projects elsewhere in the state, as has been the case, now all of a local option tax (up to $10 million a year) could stay within the county.

“We fought for many years to try to give them (local leaders) some control as to priorities and where moneys are spent. This gives city councils, county commissions, those closest to the people a chance to help prioritize” where transportation funding should go, he said.

“This piece of legislation is really such a large step in the right direction,” said Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse. “All significant transportation systems of regional significance now have to go through a vetting process to be prioritized according to which gives the biggest bang for the buck back to taxpayers.

“Now, what we’re saying, is as funds and resources are somewhat scarce, we need to be responsible to the taxpayers,” he said.

“We’ve never used sales tax (options) for roads before,” Adams continued. Previously, sales taxes approved had to go solely for mass transit projects.

This option allows for a combination transportation use, if desired, or totally for mass transit or for roads. However, a quarter of the tax must be spent on corridor preservation, he emphasized.

“The cost of ground is becoming astronomical. The availability of it is disappearing,” he said.

“If we don’t preserve corridors now, it will cost our kids and grandkids for our lack of foresight.”

“The voters will be in charge. You don’t get many options that do that,” Adams said. “We didn’t raise the tax. We simply gave county commissions the option of putting this on the ballot.”

Davis County also now has the same opportunities as Salt Lake and Utah County “in putting taxes into surface roads, not simply mass transit,” Killpack added.

In answer to concerns raised by some that education should have received funding, Eastman said, “Last year we gave public education more money than it’s ever received. Their budget is higher than it’s ever been.

“This is a small tax cut and I think it makes sense to give some back” when there’s a surplus, he added.


9/26/2006 10:25 PM  

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