Poll: Utahns Still Favor Tax Hike to Fund Transportation

Support for a quarter-cent sales tax hike for local roads and mass transit has steadied a bit, a new UtahPolicy poll shows.

State lawmakers in their 2015 general session allowed county officials to place on the ballot a small increase in the local option sales tax for voters to decide whether they wanted to raise their sales tax for city and county roads and for mass transit operations – should there be a mass transit district in their county.

A new survey for UtahPolicy by Dan Jones & Associates finds that 56 percent of citizens across the state would support such a ballot initiative, 40 percent oppose and 4 percent didn’t know.


Most counties are putting the sales tax increase – called Prop 1 – on this November’s municipal election ballot.

Those include counties along the Wasatch Front, where the Utah Transit Authority has operations – either light rail (TRAX) in Salt Lake County, heavy rail (FrontRunner) going between Ogden and Provo, or bus service in many areas.

You can track previous UtahPolicy polls on this issue here and here.

campaign by local civic and government officials has begun to convince citizens to vote yes on Prop 1.

You can read about Prop 1, even check out proposed road and mass transit updates in your area, here.

Various anti-tax groups have come out against Prop 1. The Utah Taxpayers Association, which is neutral on Prop 1, has a fine overview of the proposal here.

There are some interesting findings in the latest Jones survey.

For example, while a majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents all favor Prop 1, there are great differences in the level of support between the groups.

Republicans favor the tax hike, 53-43 percent, with 4 percent undecided.

Democrats favor Prop 1, 70-27 percent with 3 percent don’t know.

And political independents (those who don’t belong to any political party) favor it, 59-37 percent with 3 percent don’t know.

So clearly any group pushing Prop 1 would want to turn out more Democrats, since they are 7-to-3 more likely to vote for it.

While groups opposed to Prop 1 not only want to convince folks to vote “no,” they also want to turn out Republicans since they are only 5-to-4 likely to vote for it.

The only natural allies the vote-no-on-Prop 1 actually has are those who told Jones they are “very conservative” politically.

That archconservative group opposes Prop 1, 49-47 percent with 4 percent undecided.

Every other political philosophy demographic favors Prop 1, with the favorability going up as the ranges move to more moderate to liberal.

Almost all municipal elections in Utah are non-partisan – meaning the candidates’ party affiliation is not listed on the ballot by their name.

County elections are partisan, but they are not up this year.

No doubt Prop 1 will be an issue in a number of city races, with candidates for mayor and council having to take a position on raising the citizens sales taxes slightly.