Utah lawmakers have $80 million extra to spend because of the tax overhaul bill passed by Congress at the end of last year. That’s on top of the $581 million in extra funds provided by a budget surplus.
Legislators are hoping to return some of that money to taxpayers in the form of a tax cut. But a new poll shows most Utahns would like those funds spent on other state needs, primarily education or healthcare for low-income residents.
The Congressional tax plan changed the way that taxable income is calculated. On the federal level, that change was offset by an income tax cut. But in Utah, the switch means residents will be paying more in income taxes, which is the reason for the windfall. Lawmakers are considering a slight tax cut for Utah residents, dropping the rate from 5% to somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.95%.
A new UtahPolicy.com poll finds a plurality of Utahns (37%) would like the money used to pay for the state’s public education system. Another third (33%) says the money should be returned to taxpayers as a tax cut. 10% said the extra cash should be used to expand Medicaid to low-income Utahns. 8% want the money used to reduce congestion on Utah’s highways, while 6% named some other use they’d like to see the money used for.
Support for a tax cut doesn’t reach 50% among Utah Republicans, but it’s close at 45%. 32% of GOP voters in the state would like to see the money go toward public education. 9% said the money should be used to reduce congestion on Utah’s roads.
Utah Democrats are not fond of the tax cut idea at all. Only 10% of Democrats want a tax cut. 48% would like to see the money go to public education and 32% think it should pay for expanding Medicaid.
42% of political independents would like to see the money used for the state’s underfunded public schools. 25% said the cash should go to a tax cut.
Usually, a tax cut in an election year is a slam dunk for legislators, but the poll results indicate at least a slight shift in priorities, mostly along ideological lines. In fact, only Utahns who are furthest to the right politically gave majority support to using the extra funds for tax relief.
51% of Utahns who identified as “very conservative” want to see the money go to a tax cut, as do 63% of those who consider themselves part of the Tea Party. Nearly every other demographic had a plurality in favor of more school funding.
The Dan Jones & Associates survey was conducted Feb. 9-16, 2018 among 609 registered Utah voters with a margin of error +/- 4%.