SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC4 News) – Governor Gary Herbert has signed the controversial tax reform bill passed during this month’s special session.
He insists it’s necessary to address the evolving dynamics of the economy to meet future needs.
The governor announced he has signed the bill during his monthly news conference.
“This is an exercise in excellence by our representatives in the legislature. I applaud their effort; I’m sure they would rather take a beating than have to go through this process. But, they are doing the right thing, for the right reasons,” said Herbert, (R) Utah.
He also addressed the more controversial points of the bill, like the big cut to the income tax which is earmarked for education funding.
He says sales tax dollars spend the same as income tax dollars and points to the last four years of committing a billion dollars of new money to education.
“I know there is a trust factor involved here with the stakeholders of education, will we continue to have that kind of commitment in the future? The answer is yes. I will roll out my budget here in the next month, my recommendation to the legislature, and you will see that there will be a robust increase in education funding.”
The governor also insists the bill takes care of Utahns who are struggling financially by implementing new tax credits and earned income tax credits.
“Right now with all that money and the deductions for dependent children the benefit to the low and low-middle income is about $135,000,000,” he said.
But, not everyone is sold on that.
Former state representative Fred Cox is leading one effort to reverse the bill by referendum.
He’s particularly concerned about the increase to the food tax.
“If you take $250 million and raise additional taxes on food and you turn around and give it back out different ways, you haven’t solved the problem. You’ve just moved the money around,” said Cox.
The referendum has been filed. Now, supporters are working to get the signatures required to get it on the ballot.
Governor Herbert says once the bill becomes law, low-income Utahns can get help with all the new credits from the Department of Workforce Services.
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