SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Time is up for supporters of the Utah Tax Referendum to gather the nearly 116,000 signatures needed to stop the Tax Reform Bill passed by lawmakers in a December special session and push it to the November ballot.
During a press conference shortly after 5 p.m., former State Representative and referendum sponsor Fred Cox said he and fellow supporters were confident they met their deadline with approximately 152,000 signatures collected statewide.
Volunteers began stationing outside the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office Tuesday afternoon to receive signature packets being collected around the valley and dropped off by couriers. Inside, one of the referendum sponsors Judy Weeks Rohner helped sort and count the number of packets coming in.
“It’s been a rollercoaster, but a miracle,” she said. “And you know what? We’re going to do it.”
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said she hired temporary staff to help her team, who’s been working extra hours to keep up with the demand for signature verification.
“We have been very busy, working until 7 p.m. We worked Saturday and we worked yesterday, which was a holiday. We want to make sure we can give credit to each person who has taken the time to sign the packet,” said Swensen. “Although we’re used to this, this is a very short time frame. It’s very compressed with this referendum statute, so it’s made it more difficult.”
Cox originally filed the referendum on December 16th, four days after legislators passed the tax overhaul plan in a special session. The bill raises sales tax on a variety of items such as groceries and tax, while lowering the state income tax.
“People felt that they were not being listened to. This referendum would allow Utahns to have a voice and decide for themselves in November,” said Rohner. “
As of Tuesday morning, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office website showed approximately 48,000 verified signatures.
Rohner said they won’t know the final number of certified signatures for at least another two weeks. But seeing the statewide efforts to fulfill the tax referendum requirements has been humbling.
“No matter what happens, this was a major thing to get so many people together from so many different aspects of life. They came together for one common goal,” she said. “We had people from all walks of life, political, social, economic, religious…all coming together for one cause. This has united Utah and the momentum has been great.”
Utah State Senate President J. Stuart Adams and Speaker Brad Wilson issued the following statement regarding the referendum signature gathering efforts relative to SB 2001:
“Utah is an extraordinary place to live and work and there is no greater evidence of that than the tremendous growth and prosperity we are currently experiencing. Efforts over the past year to reform our tax system and provide tax cuts have been aimed at preserving the high quality of life we enjoy. We recognize the current tax reform plan created concern for some Utahns and the legislature remains committed to crafting solutions Utahns can be proud of while ensuring our state continues to prosper.”
In a statement last Thursday, the Utah Taxpayers Association said,
“Voters in Utah are being asked to sign a referendum to halt the tax reform bill recently passed by the Legislature. Several misconceptions, misunderstandings, and falsehoods continue to be repeated by supporters of the referendum. […] We advise taxpayers to consult a tax advisor to see what kind of a tax cut they will see based on this before considering signing the referendum and to educate themselves and learn the truth before believing the myths, misunderstandings and falsehoods about the bill.”
To read their full statement, ‘Tax Reform: Correcting Misconceptions,’ click here.
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