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Annual Taxpayer Conference Sheds Light on Future Budget Issues

Brian Grimmett

The annual Utah Taxpayers Association conference is always heavily attended by state legislators and important policy makers and that means it’s also a great way to figure out what Utah’s most pressing budget and tax issues will be for the coming year.

Like last year, possible Medicaid expansion and how it could impact the taxpayer in Utah was a major issue at this year’s conference. Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes is a part of the small group of government leaders trying to come up with some kind of solution. He says the group’s biggest concern is how to mitigate the risk of not knowing exactly how much expanding Medicaid will cost the state.

“We have to have some budget certainty, because if we get it wrong it comes from somewhere in the state of Utah," Hughes says. "We have to have balance our budget. The biggest pot of money, if you have to find the overage, is either in other health and human services funding, which is for the most needy among us already, or public education.”

Another major issue brought up during the conference was how the Utah legislature passed a gas tax increase and made changes to property taxes. Senator Howard Stephenson is the president of the Utah Taxpayers Association. He says while he doesn’t like raising taxes, those two bills addressed problems with Utah’s tax structure.

“And so it’s justifiable for the legislature to come back periodically and say, ok, what is appropriate in insuring that we have the resources to fund essentially services such as roads and education," he says.

Stephenson says the Taxpayers Association would also like to see continued work on properly funding transportation infrastructure and lowering the corporate tax rate. 

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