(KCPW News) An income tax hike for wealthier Utahns was voted down in the Legislature’s House Revenue and Taxation Committee today. Democratic bill sponsor Representative Brian King intended to use the tax revenue to hold public and higher education harmless in a year of severe cuts, but was met with opposition. Republican Representative Greg Hughes spoke against the bill, saying that a low tax rate is more beneficial to the state than bringing in more money for schools.
“What funds education is not what politicians decide that number ought to be,” said Hughes. “The funds to education are dictated strictly and only by jobs in this state. The jobs equal income. The income equals income tax. The income tax is earmarked for public education.”
Democrats, however, said that providing for strong public education attracts families to Utah, which in turn helps the state’s economic development. The revenue from this tax increase would be an additional $100 to $110 million a year, according to fiscal analysts.
The flat income tax implemented in 2008 left schools with less revenue. Kevin Cromar, a member of the Canyons School District Board of Education, said King’s bill would undo this damage.
“We want to fund higher education, we want to fund charter schools, public education, adequately. So I plead with the Legislature, they would review, at least take a look at this bill,” he said. “Maybe use this bill to fix what I believe was wrong a couple years ago, and restore that money to education.”
The committee voted along party lines to refer the bill back to the Rules Committee. It would have raised the marginal tax rate for those who make more than $250,000 a year to six percent, and hiked it to seven percent for people making more than $750,000 per year.