Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: Will Lawmakers Hike Taxes?

Some GOP lawmakers are quietly discussing a possible tax hike to pay for transportation needs. Our “Political Insiders” and readers think that could be a distinct possibility.

Clear majorities of our Republican and Democratic “insiders” think lawmakers will pass some sort of tax hike to pay for transportation. 53% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats think legislators will approve a tax hike.

Selected anonymous comments:

“When has the Utah legislature ever seen a tax increase they didn’t like? I mean, other than for education, because you know: pavement over people is always a good idea.”

“No, I don’t think they will increase taxes for transportation, however it is well past the time they should, and i would support an increase in transportation funding.”

“A tax hike in this economy – you got to be kidding me!!! Lets increase inflation even more. Stupid move if you ask me. Utah has an economy that ranks as one of the best right now because of good fiscal policies. If you look at tax reliant states they are being crushed or even worse facing bankruptcy. Don’t try to fix what is not broken. I for one will not support a politician that supports higher taxes.”

“I can see it being a right move as long as the increase isn’t too significant. I feel that we can only lower (or avoid raising) taxes for so long before things like infrastructure and other amenities suffer. I’m ok paying a little more in taxes, as long as the funds are being used to directly improve and benefit our communities.”

“A safe and efficient transportation system is the backbone of a strong economy. The system must grow and be maintained to sustain and even improve our quality of life. Users should bear the primary expense of the system. The user fee (currently the gas tax) should be indexed to maintain pace with inflation in the costs to build and maintain the system. Utah’s leaders have not had the political will to increase the gas tax for nearly 2 decades. It is time!!!”

“It is a wise move, but whether they will approve it is a toss-up. I give it 50% odds. In the long run, it won’t solve our problems, though, as vehicles become more fuel efficient and alternative fuels, including electricity, become more prevalent. We need to rethink how we fund roads.”

“There’s a difference between a tax hike and indexing a tax to keep up with inflation. The current gas tax is per gallon, not a percentage of the actual cost of the fuel. The public costs for road maintenance and repair aren’t based on how much fuel is consumed but instead on the actual costs of construction materials, which rise with inflation – just like the cost of gas. Asking the people who use the public resource of roads the most to pay for their maintenance seems only fair. Otherwise, we’ll just continue to rob our education funds to pay for roads, or barrowing money against our kids future. Either case is a bad plan for our long term economic growth.”

“It will not be easy to pass a tax hike, but with the House not facing reelection for two years the gas tax will be raised. Despite the fact that it’s the right thing to do, the decision will narrowly pass the House and will easily pass in the Senate.”

“I support higher taxes if they are used for more mass transit and not just more roads.”

“Is it time? It was probably time several years ago. Look, Republicans run this state, and while their mantra is to cut taxes and find new ways of doing things for less money – when it comes to transportation and infrastructure, sometimes it just costs what it costs.”

“I prefer a tax hike to fund public education.”

“Not a good time for any tax increases. The economy is slowly recovering, but wages remain flat in Utah while the cost for housing, food and other essentials continue to rise.”

“The legislature has dithered and danced around this issue for years. For example, Utah’s largest public works project – I-15 core ($2b) – was done with no new revenue, just bonding. It’s time for real action.”