SALT LAKE CITY — The recently approved state tax reform plan may have been thwarted by a grass-roots referendum that gathered 152,000 signatures to repeal the Utah food tax, according to the organizer’s internal data.
If nearly 116,000 of those signatures are verified by county clerks statewide, tax reform will be put on hold until voters weigh in on it in November.
McCay: Utah food tax repeal should be on the table
As county clerks work to verify those signatures, Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, is floating the idea of repealing at least some of the tax reform package as soon as this session.
Sen. McCay told KSL NewsRadio’s “Dave and Dujanovic” he thinks the state legislature should consider a repeal, adding that his concern mainly lies with the increased sales tax on food.
“I think repeal should be on the table,” the Utah lawmaker told Dave and Dujanovic. “I hear a lot of consternation about the food tax.”
Asked if any of his colleagues in the legislature would be on board with a possible repeal, Sen. McCay said he heard “preliminary interest from a number of colleagues.”
Sen. McCay noted he voted for the tax reform bill passed in December’s special session because he sought to balance the state budget and “try to figure out a way to move the state forward.”
“Honestly, I’ve been impressed,” he said of the signature-gathering effort to put the issue of tax reform on the 2020 ballot. “This is the process. This is the way it’s supposed to work. If we don’t do things the way people want us to do it, by all means, the referendum process is there.”
Signatures verified at staggering rate
“They’re sitting at about a 94% validity rate, which is just unheard of with signatures,” Utah’s Director of Elections Justin Lee told Dave and Dujanovic. “Normally we see somewhere between 75 percent to 80 percent being valid.”
Lee added that 60,411 had been validated thus far. Nearly 116,000 are needed statewide to get the issue on the 2020 ballot.
The effort relied solely on volunteers, according to former state lawmaker Fred Cox, who organized the petition. Using internal data, Cox said that over 152,000 signatures had been gathered statewide.
Sen. McCay commended the grassroots effort, saying “we’ll be better as a state because of this participation.”
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