Gov. Gary Herbert calls special session on Utah tax reform

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Governor Gary Herbert has called a special session of the legislature to address tax reform.

The Governor informed the full Legislature it will gavel into session on Thursday at 4 p.m. with tax reform scheduled for 5 p.m.

The call for the special session comes after the Legislature’s Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force voted on Monday to recommend a draft bill on tax reform to the full legislature.

The bill would include a $160 million overall tax cut by decreasing the state’s income tax rate while offsetting the cut with increased taxes on groceries, fuel and some services.

In a letter calling for the special session, Govern Herbert stated –  “After much consideration, I have concluded that this bill should be addressed in a special session, so that legislators can carry out their duty of settling base budgets available for allocation during the upcoming general legislative session.”

The proposal garnered support from many big businesses while others urged lawmakers to wait to address it in the general session in January.

On balance, I think we did a pretty good job,” said Lyle Hillyard R-Logan, co-chair of the tax reform task force. “The legislative process is a compromise. There’s a lot of negotiations, not only with Democrats, but Republicans.”

The recommendation from Hillyard and others on the task force followed a nearly year-long process that included eight town halls across the state, with one in Cache County, and nine public meetings at the Capitol.

“I think we’ve done a really good job in trying to get out and inviting people,” said Hillyard. “I can’t think of any bill that I’ve ever been involved in that’s had that kind of public hearing and public input.”

“A special session is the ideal setting to consider a bill of such significant complexity and impact to our state’s citizens and businesses,”  said Brad Wilson, House speaker. “If passed, the proposal will allow us to implement a $160 million tax cut that Utahns will see in their paychecks in 2020.”

Lawmakers have been trying to reform the state’s tax structure to deal with declining growth in sales tax revenues, which aren’t keeping up with income tax collections as consumer spending shifts from good to services.

“Passing this tax bill is the first in a series of steps necessary to create a structure that can support the Utah of the future,” stated Governor Herbert.

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