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Utah’s house speaker talks tax cut, other legislative priorities

The Utah State Capitol building, file photo. Credit: Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Utah lawmakers held their interim meetings on Wednesday, and Utah’s house speaker took the opportunity to say that he is hoping for a tax cut. And soon.

“I would love to be in a place where we could get a tax cut by January 1,” Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said in his offices on Wednesday morning.

That would require a special session of the Utah Legislature.  “Personally, I think a lot of us would love to see something done before the end of the year,” the speaker said.

The speaker said that Utah’s Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force will spend the next month going over multiple proposals from task force co-chairmen, House Majority Leader Francis Gibson and Sen. Lyle Hillyard.

Senator Wilson said that he does not think a tax at the gas pump will be coming, but he does say something needs to change in Utah’s tax code to keep up with infrastructure needs.

“We have so many challenges in our state with our rapid growth. We have to balance a tax cut with our needs in infrastructure and education,” he said.

Representative Wilson spent all summer talking and hearing about tax reform with the tax force, and getting feedback from Utahns.

He says Utah’s growth is creating funding challenges.

“At some point, we will need to see user fees for transportation, whether that’s miles traveled or road user charges,” Wilson said.

“That’s more equitable, it’s more fair,” he said. “Gas historically has been a proxy for that. But as the economy is changing, and technology is changing, the gas tax probably in 15 years will not be reflective of user charges.”

Wilson says education funding, healthcare, Medicaid and vaping are also big issues for the upcoming session.

When it comes to vaping, he says a working group should release some of their priorities and ideas fairly soon, especially when it comes to limiting underage vaping and dealing with the health crisis of lung disease.

 

(Simone Seikaly contributed to this story.)