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Biskupski Says Becker Made Deal With Lawmakers to Raise Taxes in Salt Lake City

Whittney Evans
Salt Lake City Mayoral candidate Jackie Biskupski Monday delivers prepared remarks about legislation that ties an increase in sales tax to the relocation of the state prison.

Salt Lake City mayoral Candidate Jackie Biskupski  is criticizing her opponent, Mayor Ralph Becker for what she says is an absence of leadership opposing the state prison relocation to Salt Lake City.

Biskupski and her supporters say the deal is too sweet for Salt Lake City for it to be a coincidence. In the final hours of the 2015 Legislative Session, state lawmakers inserted an optional local sales tax increase into the Prison Development Bill HB 454—meaning whichever city acquires the new prison can opt to raise taxes. A sales tax hike is something, Biskupski points out Becker has lobbied the legislature for in the past.

“This mayor has his own agenda and he is working to advance it,” Biskupski says. “Even if it takes secretive back room deals that no one is privy to.”

Biskupski says Becker would not be seeking a sales tax increase had he fought for more economic development opportunities. The prison relocation commission has identified two potential sites in Salt Lake City for the new prison. Mayor Becker says there was no back room deal, but he was aware that lawmakers were including the provision.

“And I made it very clear that Salt Lake City’s position was to oppose the prison site and that there was no financial mitigation or community impact fund that would change my position,” Becker says.

Biskupski is asking Utah Governor Gary Herbert to veto the bill. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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