'Compromise' to raise your taxes to give more money to Utah schools

'Compromise' to raise your taxes to give more money to Utah schools (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV)- It's a little complicated---but Utah lawmakers with just hours to go in their session, seem poised to raise your taxes, to call off the drive for an even larger tax hike for state education.

The bottom line is the state gas tax could go up a dime a gallon, and homeowners could pay more in property taxes too, all at a time when the state budget surplus is reportedly projected at more than $500 million dollars.

It's described as a "compromise" with the Our Schools Now organization, which has been pushing for a ballot initiative to raise state sales and income taxes to bring in an additional $700 million for public education.

Austin Cox, executive director of Our Schools Now, said if lawmakers approve measures to set in motion hikes for the gas tax and property taxes, his organization will drop its initiative.

A resolution that will likely be voted on in the House and Senate on Thursday, calls for the gas tax hike to go on the ballot in Nov.

The vote will be "non-binding," but if most Utah voters are for it, lawmakers will ask the governor to call a special session so they can raise the gas tax.

"If we have a half billion dollar or more surplus, why are we talking about raising taxes at all?" 2 News asked Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, who is sponsoring a piece of the compromise.

"This is a long game," she said. "We're not looking just at this year, but we're looking next year, and over the next five years, ten years."

Her resolution said "additional investments in education will provide greater learning opportunities for Utah students to succeed," and that "improving Utah's workforce will stimulate greater economic development."

Rep. Edwards said a 10 cents a gallon tax hike would cost the average driver a little less than $50 a year.

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