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Politics & Government

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

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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.  

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