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Utah Lawmakers To Repeal Tax Reform Bill

governor gary herbert tax modernization reform, referendum
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Gov. Gary Herbert said, "Tax modernization, tax fairness, equity, reflecting our modern economy is something that needs to be done. In fact, that will continue to be a challenge for us going forward."

To the surprise of many Utahns, Governor Gary Herbert announced Thursday morning that state lawmakers would be repealing the controversial tax modernization bill in the upcoming legislative session. The bill was passed during a special session last month.

“Talking with the senate president and speaker of the house yesterday, we decided the best course of action, reflecting the will of the people is, in fact, to go back and push the restart button," Herbert said.

The announcement came one day after signatures for a referendum to the bill were due. Gina Cornia, the executive director of Utahns Against Hunger, was shocked by the governor's quick response.

“To say that we were taken back is probably an understatement," Cornia said. "We expected there to be some sort of action in reference to the referendum. We did not anticipate that they would plan on fully repealing the tax reform.”

One of the most controversial aspects of the bill was the increase on sales tax for unprepared food items. Cornia said one in nine Utah households struggles to afford food.

“And that includes households on fixed incomes, you know, so folks who are living off of disability payments and are unable to work, seniors who are getting social security, and folks who are working low-wage jobs, who, really, are living barely from paycheck-to-paycheck," she said. "Even though there are only 1 in 9 households who experience food insecurity, we know it would have a much larger impact on Utah families.”

Though the governor and state lawmakers said repealing the tax reform bill will be the first item of business in the upcoming legislative session, Herbert added tax modernization for equity and reflecting the economy is still something that needs to be done — and "sooner rather than later."