SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Utah lawmakers will be considering a version of the House bill that would see the state portion of sales tax on food removed on the condition of making a constitutional change on how income and property taxes may be used.
The bill, H.B. 101 1st Sub, will be heard in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
Utah’s Capitol Hill said on Friday it heard Utahns loud and clear that removing the sales tax on food is a priority. The removal of Utah’s state sales tax on food, however, would also rely on the passing of Senate Joint Resolution 10.
SJR10 would make a state constitutional change, amending the provision that revenue from income and property taxes could only be used to support public education and higher education systems.
Since it would be a change to the state’s constitution, voters would have to approve the change during the 2024 general election. If voters approve the change, and the Utah Legislatures pass this version of H.B. 101, lawmakers say it would result in a $200 million total tax reduction.
“Utah is the only state in the nation that has these types of budget constraints,” said Rep. Mike Shultz (R-Hooper). “We can’t remove the sales tax on food and continue to efficiently balance the state budget. I’m excited to give citizens the opportunity to make the final decision at the ballot box next November.”
Utah Sen. Ann Millner (UT-District 5) said in a statement that under the current budget structure, the food sales tax helps fund Medicaid, homeless programs, public safety, court, parks and more. In order to continue funding these programs without the revenue from food sales tax, the budget would have to be restructured.
According to Utah Education Associations’ positioning, that change in funding might be hard to find support for within the educational community, especially as the change from SJR10 would effectively remove guaranteed educational funding.
“As written the bill is unacceptable,” a representative for UEA said. “UEA and other education stakeholders have been at the table discussing a Constitutional Mandate that guarantees a funding distribution method that continues to grow our investment in public education and our students.”