(KCPW News) The Salt Lake Chamber is drafting a proposal for state lawmakers to recommend methods of bridging an anticipated $850 million budget shortfall. And it could include several tax hikes. However, chamber spokesman Marty Carpenter says it’s premature to assume the chamber is solely backing tax increases as a fix for the state budget.
“There are only two ways to do that,” Carpenter says. “You either increase revenue or you cut expenses. The business community wants to weigh in. We’d like to make sure that when we do that, if we do one of those two or a combination of the two, that we’re doing so with an eye on the long run.”
At a Sutherland Institute forum this week, Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie urged policymakers to consider targeted tax hikes to preserve essential services like education. He mentioned the possibility of raising the gas tax, reinstating the sales tax on food, and increasing the severance tax. Beattie used to be president of the state senate.
Carpenter says it’s a balancing act. Increasing taxes too much could hurt the economy. But cutting too deeply into critical social services and public education could do the same thing.
“What we want to make sure we do is make smart decisions that benefit us not just now, but going forward,” Carpenter says, “You know, we want to make sure that we’re in a good position two years down the road, five years down the road, 10 years down the road.”
Other tax proposals that advocates and policymakers are considering include increasing the taxes on tobacco and hospital beds, and raising the income tax for the state’s wealthiest residents.