Wilde Says Tax Reform Remains Priority For Utah Legislature

Jan 22, 2020

Credit Utah House of Representatives

The new tax law that state lawmakers recently passed might be put on hold, with a citizen referendum likely to succeed. One Summit County legislator looks ahead to how that might play out in the 2020 general session.

Although state lawmakers likely hoped to put it behind them, District 53 Rep. Logan Wilde says legislators won’t escape a conversation about tax reform, given the likely success of a referendum to put the legislature’s tax reform efforts to voters.

“Probably going into this session, this is going to be probably the hottest topic that's going to be out there," Wilde said. "I know most elected officials would probably want to stay away from it, because it's election season, but I don't think they can at this point.”

The Croydon Republican broke with his fellow Summit County representatives, Heber Republican Tim Quinn and Salt Lake Democrat Brian King, when he voted for the legislature’s tax reform bill during a special session in December.

“I’m not sure the food tax gets us right where we need to, but the reason I voted for it is it kind of brings some balance back to the general fund,” Wilde said.

A citizen referendum to put the controversial tax law to voters in November seems to have enough signatures from Utahns to succeed in halting the implementation of the new law. With that uncertainty heading into the 2020 general session, Wilde says lawmakers will need to decide how to shore up the general fund under a tax law in flux. He says it could come down to either raising the sales tax rate or cutting services.

“I think we'll be looking for measures, trying to remedy some of the problems that are within the bill, or even just repeal the bill at this point, but I'm not sure what will happen.”

The legislature passed the new tax law in December, with all Democrats and some Republicans voting against. Because the bill didn’t have support of two-thirds of the House and Senate, it was subject to a citizen referendum. To be put to voters in November, the referendum needs at least 116,000 verified signatures from at least 15 Utah counties. At the time of this report, more than 66,000 signatures had been verified. Referendum organizers say they’ve collected more than 170,000.