New polling out of Utah indicates that 53% of the state’s residents would rather their representatives raise taxes than cut state services.  Increases in the income tax, as well as additional taxes on tobacco, alcohol, coal, oil, and natural gas are all considered by Utahns to be preferable to additional state spending cuts.  Against this backdrop, Rep. Brian King is among a minority of legislators currently favoring an increase in the income tax.  Specifically, King’s plan would raise the tax rate paid by those earning more than $250,000 per year.

Although many Utah legislators remain opposed to tax hikes, even Utah’s largest business organization – the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce – is supporting higher taxes in at least a limited form.  Specifically, the Chamber supports increasing the state’s fairly low cigarette tax rate, as well as hiking the state gasoline tax by ten cents per gallon.  The Chamber has, however, come out in opposition to Rep. King’s plan.

So far, the Republicans in control of Utah’s House, Senate, and Governor’s office have virtually ruled out tax increases, with the possible exception of a cigarette tax hike.  One state senator responded to the idea of tax increases by saying that “We're down so far in revenue ... down $1 billion dollars, that the tax increases that would be required to bring us up to where we were before would be so staggering that people who are advocating that don't understand how far we are."  Clearly, however, the same logic applies to state spending cuts, which were the primary vehicle used to close the state’s budget gap last year.  Utah’s situation is begging for a more balanced approach – a fact that Utahns appear to have recognized.

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