The Utah House passed a bill Friday to allow communities to raise local sales tax rates to pay for transit projects. Supporters say it would help clean up Utah’s air.
Utah’s clean air advocates like the Quarter for Clean Air bill. So do local communities that would like revenue to put more buses on the road and expand service hours. Justin Jones is communications director for the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. He says Utah’s business sees it as an important keep Utah growing wisely.
“Continued investment in transportation is essential for continued economic growth in the state of Utah,” Jones said after the vote. “This bill is an investment in the bus system, or an investment in rail if you are outside Salt Lake County. It’s what the community can choose to invest in transit. It gets more people out of their cars and into the busses or trains, which will help clean the air.”
The chamber estimates nearly 3,000 tons of pollutants could be eliminated with better transit. The Quarter for Clean Air bill would allow communities to add ¼ of 1 percent to their local sales tax rate – but only after voter approval.
Republican Representative Johnny Anderson of Taylorsville says the revenue would help communities restore ground lost during the recession.
“We need these bus routes back,” Anderson said on the House floor. “We need the frequency back. We need people to be able to make use of this excellent rail transportation system we have in place and they need a bus to get there.”
The House passed the bill, 58 to 10, with bipartisan support. The legislation now goes to the Senate.