Members of the Utah Legislature discussed how they might handle several key issues they’ll be facing this legislative session at the annual pre legislative conference put on by the Utah Taxpayers Association.
The leaders of both the Utah House of Representatives and the Utah Senate say that education and transportation funding will be among the primary issues lawmakers will attempt to tackle during the upcoming legislative session.
Republican Rep. Jack Draxler’s proposal to increase the income tax by 1% to help fund education will likely be at the center of those debates. Draxler says the state is losing quality teachers to other states because of lower salaries. But House Speaker Greg Hughes says while he recognizes there’s a problem, he’s not sure a tax increase is the best way to fix it.
“Let’s make sure whatever those decisions we make don’t have the opposite effect of maybe becoming a disincentive for corporate expansion or relocation or more job growth," he says. "More job growth is the key to getting more critical dollars to our schools.”
Hughes also says he believes the legislature will make some changes to the gas tax, but whether lawmakers will do that by increasing the amount charged per gallon, or changing the way it’s calculated entirely is still unclear. The general session begins later this month.