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Lawmaker Wants to Scrap Sales-tax Hike Option Linked to Prison Move

Brian Grimmett

A Utah Republican Senator is working on a bill to back out of a deal that would allow Salt Lake City to increase the sales tax. The agreement was a consolation for the city in which the new prison would be relocated.

State lawmakers slipped the incentive into a prison relocation bill in the final days of the 2015 legislative session.  It gives the city in which the relocation occurs the option to raise the sales tax in the municipality by half a cent. Utah Republican Senator and Executive Appropriations Chair Lyle Hillyard wants to go back on that option.

“I don’t want it hanging over our heads for a city commission 20 years from now to say, oh we can raise sales tax because the legislature did it,” Hillyard says. “It was supposed to be an incentive to take the prison but Salt Lake City didn’t want the prison anyway, so I can’t see it being much of an incentive.”

Both former Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and current Mayor Jackie Biskupski opposed the relocation of the state prison to Salt Lake City. Some, including Senator Jim Dabakis and then-mayoral candidate Jackie Biskukpski questioned whether Becker negotiated with lawmakers to get the tax hike in exchange for the prison. Becker denied any involvement in the decision.  

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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