Chamber Of Commerce Front Group “OurSchoolsNow” Employs Math Spin For Tax Increase (Update)

I’ll keep this brief. First, OurSchoolsNow is yet another in the litanny of Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce political front groups bent on raising economic burdens on Utah families. The latest gambit will be yet another “why do you hate school children?” guilt trip against those opposed to the tax increase. They’ll couple this with a quiet bit of math spin on the actual percent tax increase and neglect to mention the increase doesn’t apply to them (surprise!). They spin it as a 7/8% increase on you. No it’s not:

The first shot in this effort to raise individual income taxes by a whopping 18% from 5% to 5.875% while leaving all business taxes, including the 5% corporate income tax, unchanged was fired when the elites formally announced a petition drive to raise the individual income tax…

The real math equates to: 5.875/5 = 18% increase in rate. Again, note that the Chamber was sure to exempt the business tax rates*. People caught on to that and now they’ve moved on to a “1/2% increase” on two taxes (sales and income) still exempting themselves from an increase. The 1/2% is, yet again, a misnomer. Here’s the breakdown:

Income tax rate increase: 5.5/5 = 10% increase
Sales tax increase (5.95% is the State base rate and 6.45% would be the new rate) = 6.45/5.95 = 8.4% increase

Interestingly, added together thats about 18% again, however, the actual burden of the sales tax increase depend on how much you spend. Futhermore besides exempting themselves from the tax, Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) caught on that the Chamber didn’t appear all that willing to get rid of tax subsidies they gorge on…funds that could’ve gone to schools (#ourschoolsnow stop campaigning to increase tax burden & focus on multiple subsidies robbing Ed budget”):

All this does is heap additional burdens on Utah families to keep the crony capital trough full, while virtue signalling they caaaare so much about children. The Utah swamp could use some draining.

UPDATE: Libertas is also calling out the Our Schools Now bunk and Libetas’ Connor Boyack also makes note of the “politically connected insiders” pushing this boondogle.

*FWIW: I’m not a big fan of raising corporate rates – those are essentially just passed on to consumers anyway via increased product cost which can reduces sales (hence why the Chamber of Crony Capitalists exempt themselves).

Time For Utah To Declare Entitlement Addiction A Public Health Crisis?

I recently stumbled across this article by Dennis Prager:

Entitlements: The Most Dangerous Addiction

There is one addiction, however, that might be more difficult than any other to escape – in part because it is not even regarded as an addiction. It is Entitlements Addiction, an addiction to getting something for nothing.

One indication as to the power of Entitlements Addiction is that, while great numbers of people have voluntarily given up – almost always at great pain – drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc., few give up an addiction to entitlements. For the majority of able-bodied people who get cash payments, food stamps, subsidized housing, free or subsidized health insurance, and other welfare benefits, the thought of giving up any one of those and beginning to pay for them with their own earned money is as hard as giving up alcohol is to an alcoholic.

Politicians know this, which is why it is close to impossible to ever reduce entitlements. And, of course, the Left knows this, which is why the Left almost always wins any debate over entitlements. Every American who is the beneficiary of an entitlement backs entitlements, and many who are not beneficiaries of entitlements would like to be.

Read the whole thing.

Anyway, the article got me thinking: Last year, Utah State Senator Todd Weiler passed a bill declaring pornography a public health crisis which was subsequently signed by Governor Herbert. This year, Herbert signed Weiler’s bill passed by the legislature allowing you to sue porn makers if a minor has been injured.

Any chance a Utah Legislature and the Governor would support a bill identifying entitlement addiction as a public health crisis or is that an approved addiction so long as the GOP/Democrats are acting as a dealer?…

Utah’s Sanctuary Link To An Illegal Immigrant Cop Killer

During President Trump’s address to Congress, he had the widows of Officers Michael Davis and Danny Oliver in attendance. An illegal immigrant, Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte (aka Marcelo Marquez), had murdered them.

Looking up the case, one finds a Utah link of neglected opportunities in CBS Sacremento’s article “How Did Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte Hide In United States Illegally Until Deputy Killings?” Apparently, Mr. Bracamonte was a return client to law enforcement and the revolving border door:

Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte had a lot to hide. He was living in the United States illegally, had been convicted in Arizona for selling drugs and twice deported to Mexico.

Eventually, he and his wife moved from Arizona and settled in West Valley City. However, he still had brushes with the law:

A search of Utah court records for Marcelo Marquez shows a history of about 10 tickets and misdemeanor traffic offenses between 2003 and 2009, which typically don’t trigger a fingerprint check against immigration records. The records list one speeding ticket in 2009 and three small claims filings attempting to collect outstanding debts.

One of the traffic offenses was more than a minor parking ticket, it was a hit-and-run:

Police in West Valley City, Utah, said they took a fingerprint from a man using the name Marcelo Marquez during a misdemeanor hit-and-run arrest in 2003.

However, Utah authorities say fingerprints from such suspects are not regularly entered into a database that would flag other arrests in the US or deportations.

Fortunately, Utah is an accommodating State for illegal immigrants. Salt Lake City Police Chiefs consistently and explicitly state that they refuse to enforce immigration law. Meanwhile, the LDS Church monetarily assists illegal immigrants (via fast offerings), pushes “compacts” intended to lead to amnesty, and lobbies the state legislature to pass clearly unconstitutional legislation (among it’s myriad of flaws).

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce (via Senator Curt Bramble “Bramnesty”), in an apparent lust for cheap labor, heads up efforts at the Utah legislature as well for the aforementioned legislation and fights tooth-and-nail to block legislation that would address enforcement or even identity theft prevention measures like E-Verify (illegal immigrants frequently engage in employment-related ID theft, leaving victims in their wake).

This welcoming sanctuary coupled with flouting established law has consequences. In this case, enforcement officers bore those consequences:

Two deputies who approached the pickup while it was parked alongside a road were shot with an AR-15-type assault weapon, police said. Homicide Detective Michael David Davis Jr., 42, died at a hospital.

Despite being illegally in the United States and a convicted felon, Bracomonte, aka Marquez, had illegally obtained a firearm  and, despite multiple police stops while he was using his Driving Privilege Card which clearly identified him as someone who could not provide proof of legal presence in the United States,  no law enforcement officer saw fit to check with or hold him for immigration authorities nor even run his fingerprints. After all, they were just following the policy established by their police chiefs and elected officials. However, had just one officer checked his immigration status or entered his fingerprints in the above database, he could have been incarcerated for illegal re-entry and two lives would have been saved.

It’s no wonder the Mexican Consulate plans on aiding illegal immigrants in Utah with legal assistance to fight deportation. If you were Mexico, would you want someone like Mr. Bracamonte/Marquez to ‘come home’? No, especially when you have a state and with leaders so willing to enable his presence and turn a politically-correct blind eye to his crimes and the victims left behind.

Food: A New Sin Tax For Utah?

That’s right. I’m going to say it again: Food is perfectly eligible as a sin tax.

…and by sin, I’m referring to the politician’s and crony organizations’ sin.

Utah legislators are contemplating raising taxes on food because they’re worried about a budget shortfall. It’s funny how that may be the case after we’ve spent, bonded and redirected who knows how many millions or billions on crap outside the proper role of government. I guess all those cute ‘it only costs a tenth/half percent of the budget or it’s just a few dollars a day’ projects add up and you start to fall short for important stuff…like more useless projects government shouldn’t be involved with.

Rather than just slapping everyone with another tax hike, maybe they should look at cutting some of the crony capital junk (UTA, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce front group boondoggles come to mind, among others). How about also ditching wasteful incremental budgeting with all it’s skunks, while your at it?

On the local level, we keep hearing that RDAs for a new, unnecessary city hall building won’t raise taxes. As I said in the past, it’s robing Peter to pay Paul and the piper will come calling when taxing entities find they’ve fallen short of money because the RDA etc. ate some of it up. The above is another example of the fallacy of the city council’s argument.

Finally, politicians don’t own all the guilt. The public (you and I) will band together to form groups demanding stuff like recreation centers, theaters, RAP taxes which impose on budgets and, ultimately, on families. Hopefully, we’ll consider the propriety and whether it’s a core governmental function or not next time we want something, else we’re our own worst enemy.

Tax Vampires: Our Schools Now Is The Latest Political Elites’ Front Group

In December, I highlighted an article on front groups used by Utah political power brokers (with the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce as the typical hub). The latest front group they’ve come up with to raise you taxes is “Our Schools Now”.

With the legislative session, Our Schools Now has popped back up to make their push to convince you to raise everyone’s taxes. Don’t fall for it. This is a good time to review the article that traces all the connections and front groups used by the people you aim to benefit from this latest push:

WHO CONTROLS UTAH? An Investigative Report on Utah’s Elite Political Brokers

It’s not just the DC swamp that needs to be drained. We need the “drain the swamp” in Utah as well.

Utah’s Secret Sweetheart Deal With Amazon (Update)

Prior to Christmas, Governor Herbert announced a deal with Amazon.com that would have the site collect Utah taxes. Amazon is known to support requiring all online retailers to collect tax (in part to provide Amazon a competitive advantage) and the Utah Legislature has also been making forays for such. At the time, I wondered why Amazon had agreed to do this and figure it had to have some benefit (I was thinking Herbert had assured them he would get the tax bill through the legislature). Evidently, we won’t know much about the deal – Herbert refuses to release the details: Advocacy group wants copy of secret Utah-Amazon tax deal.

Libertas Institute, a Utah group that advocates for personal liberty, was denied a request for a copy of the tax deal struck by internet retailer Amazon and the state of Utah.

They justify the secrecy by saying it is “protected information”. It seems very dubious that government can make such things secret that have no national security value. The only thing we know right now is Amazon is collecting the tax and is getting a kickback that I don’t believe any brick-and-mortar or Utah online company receives:

The State of Utah made an agreement with Amazon where the company gets a 1.3 percent cut of the tax collected.

So it looks like more crony capitalism from the Herbert Administration.

I’m done with it and will actively avoid directly buying from Amazon too (not that I buy much from them anyway). They have plenty of third party sellers who don’t collect the tax (and Amazon doesn’t get the kickback). I’ve also noticed that third party sellers also have their own websites and tend to sell the same product for less thereon. As an added bonus, buying directly from the little guy also allows you to better support small business.

UPDATE: Just checked my messages and low and behold, Libertas Institute is going to follow up on this. Hope they’re successful. Here’s the alert they sent out:

Despite failed efforts to (unconstitutionally) require out-of-state companies to collect and remit the Utah sales tax, the executive branch hasn’t given up its insatiable appetite for tax revenue.

The Utah State Tax Commission entered into a secret agreement with Amazon whereby the e-commerce website would voluntarily do it. The question is, what were they given in return?

We don’t know—and the state doesn’t want us to know.

We requested the document that has those details, but were denied. Many are outraged by that, and the Standard-Examiner and Salt Lake Tribune have editorialized in opposition.

Next week we’ll be appealing the decision, fighting for transparency—fighting against our own government that refuses to let taxpayers know basic information about secret deals with out-of-state companies.

Edit for transparency: I had initially written that I won’t use Amazon anymore but changed that to “actively avoid”. I got thinking about it and if I am given an Amazon gift card, I’m not just going to give Amazon the money and not use it. Nevertheless, I can use it for a third party purchase on the site and also use something like camelcamelcamel.com to get a sale or best price for an item.

Kissing Cousins: Salt Lake Chamber Of Commerce – Utah Government Elite Interconnections Wag The Dog

The article is lengthy but ends up being an easy read as you delve into the various front groups used to create nifty confirmation bias for politicians to justify their tax and policy excesses favoring connected businesses.

The article (WHO CONTROLS UTAH? An Investigative Report on Utah’s Elite Political Brokers) starts with a key points summary but it is well worth the read for the details supporting the conclusion:

When discussing public policy in Utah, it is important to recognize that policy elites use every tool at their command to achieve the results they want. Any pretense of objectivity is just that – a pretense.

It’s fun to have your finger on the scales of government power. It’s a good time to be a crony capitalist in Utah.

Ironically enough, the article misses the most recently created Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce front group:

Our Schools Now

Gee, I have no idea why Zions Bank would want to run a group that seeks more bond money. Oh and the address for Our Schools Now? It’s co-located with the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

And these folks still wonder what produced Trump.