The Utah affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers wants a restructuring of Utah's income tax brackets to make them "less regressive."
The AFT legislative package does not ask for a tax increase but supports the Democratic Party proposal to double income tax brackets while keeping tax rates the same. The measure would lower income taxes for 90 percent of the state's taxpayers, the federation says."While we most definitely believe in increased funding for public education, we also believe that it is wrong for a disproportionate amount of this funding to come from lower- and middle-income taxpayers. It is time for the wealthiest 10 percent of our society to pay a fairer share," said Greg Hayes, AFT-Utah president.
Under the current taxing system, Utahns who earn an annual salary of $7,500 or more are in the same tax bracket. "This injustice adds to the unfortunate image that Utah doesn't care about its work force," said Hayes, "any more than it cares about overcrowded classrooms."
The union also favors removing the partial federal deducation on state income tax returns, another tax provision they say favors the rich and the expense of lower-income Utahns.
AFT leaders said they want to avoid the bitterness that was related to a one-day walkout of teachers in the fall of 1989 and the ongoing threat of a strike that colored the 1990 legislative session. Removing barriers to more equitable taxation would create an atmosphere of trust and dialogue among educators, taxpayers and legislators, Hayes said.