Opponents File Referendum Against Sweeping Tax Reform Bill
Dec 16, 2019, 10:46 PM | Updated: 11:29 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Days after a comprehensive tax reform bill was passed in a special legislative session, opponents of Senate Bill 2001 have renewed their fight against the changes with a referendum filed Monday.
Last week’s outcome was hardly surprising. After months of debate and more than four hours of discussion at the state capitol Thursday night, the special session ended with a new tax reform bill for all of Utah.
But the bill failed to pass with a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, and that’s all opponents needed to keep up their fight.
“Yeah it was a win in a really small way,” said Gina Cornia, executive director of Utahns against Hunger. “We understand that taxes pay for services that are critical to people that we serve. But the food tax was the wrong way to go about that.”
Former state Rep. Fred Cox is leading the charge, alongside Utahns Against Hunger and Utah Justice Coalition among others, to gather 115,869 signatures within 40 days of the legislative session.
If they succeed, the bill will be put on hold and its future will be in the hands of Utah’s voters next November.
“It’s going to be really a challenge, I think, if they get the signatures and we can’t act on the changes we made because under the new revenue projection, we only have $42 million dollars in general fund money and that would have to fund a whole bunch of needs,” said state Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, who sponsored the bill.
Hillyard was happy with Thursday’s turnout and said the ballot is not the answer.
“The ballot would simply say no, you can’t do it that way. But it does not give us a solution for how to solve the problem,” Hillyard said. “It would put us in a pretty precarious situation from July to November until there’s a vote of the people. And if they turned it down, if they rejected the referendum, we’re back trying to put together a budget.”
Gov. Gary Herbert is expected to sign S.B. 2001. The bill won’t take effect until 60 days after it’s signed.