Support for the two tax-cutting initiatives has dwindled a bit, but more people still favor the measures than oppose them, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
A month ago, the two measures - which will be called Initiatives A and B on November's ballot - had majority support among Utahns, pollster Dan Jones & Associates said.But in a poll conducted last week, Jones found that if the election were held today, 49 percent would vote for the property tax limitation initiative (Initiative A), 27 percent would vote against it and 24 percent didn't know.
Initiative B, which would reduce the sales, tobacco, gasoline and income taxes back to the 1986 levels, is favored by 47 percent of those questioned, 41 percent said they would vote against it and 12 percent didn't know. Jones polled 903 adults between Sept. 6-8. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0 percent.
Initiative A would limit residential property taxes to 0.75 percent of fair market value, limit other property taxes to 1 percent of fair market value and limit growth in state and local governments.
Rolling back the record 1987 increases in the sales, tobacco, gasoline and income taxes would cost the state about a $141 million. Proponents and opponents of Initiative A disagree on how much that would save property-tax payers, or cost local governments and school districts, depending on how you view the controversial issue. The Utah Taxpayers Association, an initiative supporter, says $80 million will be lost to local governments and school districts. The Utah Tax Commission says $185 million will be lost.
There will be a third initiative on the ballot. Initiative C would give an income tax credit to parents of children who attend private schools. That initiative would cost about $3 million at first, but proponents of the measure say that as more children move from the public schools to private schools, it could actually save the state money.
Initiative C has always trailed in Jones' previous polls. In his latest poll, Jones found that 37 percent favor the tax credit, 49 percent oppose it and 13 percent don't know.
Jones also asked how informed people thought they were about the initiatives. Fourteen percent said they were ill-informed, only 4 percent said they were very knowledgeable about the initiatives. Most said they were only fairly informed.
In a July 28 poll, Jones found that 57 percent favored Initiative A, 22 percent opposed it and 20 percent didn't know. So in a little over a month, support for the measure has dropped by 8 percentage points.
Jones found in July that 56 percent supported Initiative B and 35 percent opposed it. So there has been a 9 point drop in support for that measure.
Dale Zabriskie, spokesman for Taxpayers For Utah, the group that opposes the initiatives, said: "(We) appreciate the fact that the movement toward defeat of the initiatives has now begun and that support for the initiatives has now fallen below the 50 percent mark. However, we are still behind and still have a long way to go. We will continue our efforts to convince voters that the cuts the initiatives would impose go too far."
Greg Beesley, chairman of the Utah Tax Limitation Coalition, the group that sponsored the initiatives, said: "Obviously, this poll did something to make people think, and when they thought about it, they realized they aren't educated yet. We definitely have to pour our efforts into education. I don't think the opposition has done much to educate, either. They've hit us with a barrage of negative information. But the people haven't accepted it."
DESERET NEWS/KSL POLL
If the election were held today, would you vote for or against the initiative that would limit residential property tax to 0.75 percent of fair market value and 1 percent of other properties' fair market value?
For 49 percent
Against 27 percent
Don't know 24 percent
If the election were held today, would you vote for or against the initiative that would roll back sales, tobacco, gasoline and income taxes to their 1986 levels?
For 37 percent
Against 49 percent
Don't know 13 percent
Sample size: 903; margin of error plus or minus 3 percent