No proposed fixes and no public comment at first tax reform task force meeting

This article originally appeared in Deseret News. Read it in its entirety here.

SALT LAKE CITY — There were no proposed fixes to the state’s tax structure discussed during the first meeting Thursday of a new legislative task force formed after lawmakers backed away last session from imposing sales taxes on services.

And there won’t be until the Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force has held eight town hall meetings throughout the state, starting in Brigham City on June 25 and ending in Utah County on July 30.

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“This is a kickoff meeting to discuss the process of the task force,” Gibson said in announcing at the start of the meeting there would be no public comment. “This isn’t a meeting where any specific policy options will be discussed.”

That decision frustrated several groups who’d hoped for a chance to address to the task force, including the Alliance for a Better Utah and the recently formed Utah Legislative Watch.

“This is something that’s going to affect everyone in the state,” said Lauren Simpson, Alliance for a Better Utah policy director. “So it’s critical that the public has an oppportunity to weigh in not just on the policy, but the process itself.”

Utah Legislative Watch’s Dalame England said she was disappointed there was no public input taken. The group had issued a news release describing “out of control government growth” as the real problem facing the state.

“We can fix in 10 minutes the way we collect taxes,” England said, possibly by raising the sales tax rate and dropping income taxes, or by restoring the full sales tax on food while giving the poor an income tax credit.

The new group is also opposed to tackling tax reform in a special session.

“That’s something that’s pretty noteworthy,” Simpson said of the agreement among such political divergent groups that tax reform needs to wait for a general legislative session.

“We might have different policy priorities,” Simpson said. “But where we’re aligned is if we’re going to do something as far-reaching and all-encompassing as tax reform, we have to take our time.”

This article originally appeared in Deseret News. Read it in its entirety here.

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