Gov. Herbert Signs, Defends Tax Reform Bill As Opponents Mount A Referendum
Despite a referendum moving ahead against a large and controversial tax reform bill passed last week, Gov. Gary Herbert announced he signed the measure Thursday morning.
Herbert then spent the bulk of the time at his monthly news conference on PBS Utah defending the measure against criticisms that it was only a tax cut for the rich, that it will hurt the poor, that the process was rushed, and that it cuts school funding without proposing a new solution.
“I understand the anxiety of many in the population of Utah that are concerned about what does this really mean, what’s it gonna do,” he said, pointing to a blog post he published to address some of those questions.
Herbert called reforming the tax code “a hard thing to do” and praised the Utah Legislature for taking on the issue despite public resistance.
Still, the governor admitted the bill isn’t perfect and said the bill he signed is more of a starting point, to be finessed in coming years.
“It certainly has a long ways to go,” he said. “But I think it’s a step in the right direction to good, fair, balanced, equitable tax policy.”
Herbert encouraged struggling low- and middle-income families to contact the Department of Workforce Services.
“They will help you get what you’re entitled to and what’s available to you in terms of money, resources, relief and help to improve your life,” he said.
Two referendums against the measure were filed earlier this week. One was rejected on grounds that two of its five sponsors had not voted in a general election in the past three years, as required by election law.
The first is being spearheaded by Republican former state Rep. Fred Cox, who is organizing volunteers and raising money to collect the more than 115,000 signatures required by the end of January to put the tax reform bill before voters.
The referendum could delay tax rebates lawmakers wanted to deliver next spring, Herbert said, until later in the year.
Watch the live stream of the news conference below: