Growing Big Government And The Welfare State, Utah Edition: Ballot Question 1 and 3

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce loves pushing government intervention and tax schemes, especially if they can benefit by pushing their costs and taxes onto you. This continues.

The chamber started a front group to push the “Our Schools Now” initiative which will raise gas taxes a whopping 18%. The chamber keeps using some tiny increase but it’s woefully deceptive ‘math’ (ironic given this is purportedly for education). Besides the bunk claim, the initiative will essentially muddy the waters on transportation funding as heretofore, the gas tax was reserved for transportation. Basically it will be placing the camel’s nose in the tent.

Worst of all, it will impact family budgets. Unlike a sales or income tax, this is a regressive tax. Families need fuel to get to work, take kids to school, and run basic errands. This will hit mid-to-low income families disproportionately to higher income levels.

Not to mention, this will put a drag on small businesses and the local economy as a whole (the Salt Lake Chamber represents big business, political elite interests, not mom & pops). There’s a reason high fuel/energy costs are always a concern and why people scream when gas pump bills jump – now they want you to give them carte blanche to jump prices.

Finally, as the Libertas Institute points out (read the report), current education funding issues are a consequence of Lane Beatty and his economic elites’ policies foisted on us in the late 90s. There are far better solutions to this than harming families and the Utah economy. Ironically, Lane Beattie is sponsoring the OurSchoolsNow charge for this tax increase…the same guy and group who messed things up totally has the fix now. Sure he does.

On to the next part of the shifting Utah to a welfare state: Medicaid expansion.

Do we really want Obamacare-lite at a local level that caused all sorts of problems in other localities that have expanded Medicaid? The expansion will increase taxes and will cost money resulting in additional raised taxes as cost overruns are realized and just create more drag on family budgets along with an expanded government role in personal health issues. No thanks, I’ll take care of that myself.

Other states that expanded Medicaid have seen cost overruns among other budgeting issues and have found worse health outcomes. Again, Libertas has a good write-up on this worth reading: Common Sense Healthcare Solutions Need More Than Band-Aids.

This should be an absolute nonstarter but people often have trouble turning down “free” government cheese, especially if they aren’t informed. Plus, I understand the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce supports this too but don’t have time to confirm/link to such (I recall they have in the past as it pushes business healthcare costs onto taxpayers).

As the adage goes (for both ballot initiatives):

Government: If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.

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2018: Utah’s Tax And Spend Legislature, Governor, Our Schools Now and the Salt Lake Chamber Of Commerce

Next time someone wants to tell me Utah has a conservative legislature, they can shove it. They’re either GOP(e) party hacks or entirely clueless.

At the end of the legislative session, the GOP-Governor-Chamber of Commerce group managed to jack up your taxes and enable a flimflam scheme to trick people into raising them further…all during a year of budget surpluses (because it’s not your money and labor, it’s really their money to play with).

Here’s what they did: The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce created yet another front group (Our Schools Now) led by a group of Utah’s wealthy elites. They started a ballot initiative pushing for another big tax increase on everyone but themselves. Then they could count on  their “Available Jones” (aka Governor Herbert) along with their shills in the legislature to cut a deal with them – much like the tactic used to begin to crush Utah’s neighborhood caucus system (in the form of SB54 a few years ago). Herbert is now out there on some dog-and-pony show about how he ‘saved’ everyone from some big tax increase. It’s total baloney.

What Herbert and the legislature did (again) is save the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce from spending their own money to run a ballot initiative that was likely to fail. Instead, they passed a couple of increases and will also use your money to fund a tax increase question for the next election. C’mon, when you’re a special interest group tied with the political elite, someone else pays for your initiatives.

So here’s the damage:

  1. They will encourage local governments to further raise the sales tax to dish more cash to the corrupt and fiscally irresponsible Utah Transit Authority (UTA) or its new name, the Transit District of Utah. UTA is (surprise!) promoted by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and politically well connected.
  2. They “froze” the rate of the state property tax dedicated to education for five years thereby exempting it from truth-in-taxation hearings . Sounds good, right? Nope. Normally counties drop the tax rate as your home valuation increases as they have a cap on how much they can collect each year. This ‘freeze’ holds the rate regardless of valuation which will result in a surplus (of your money) they will harvest.
    Tip: Be on guard for them extending the freeze in perpetuity and expanding it to other entities that take property taxes. Also watch for an increased tempo of home value evaluations to further boost their take. Face it, property taxes combined with spendthrift politicians mean you never really own you home.
  3. They will shove a question on the next election ballot asking for a 33% increase in the gas tax from $0.29/gallon to $0.39/gallon.
    Here’s the flimflam: A few actual conservative legislators asked that they phrase the ballot question to include the percent increase (33%) or the old/new rate (0.29-0.39/gallon), thus giving voters clarity and context. Niet! said our liberal GOPe legislators and blocked the motion. Now the Chamber et al. can try to pull the wool over naive voters and spin the increase as ‘just a small 10 cent increase’. It’s a significant increase ($2.00 per fill-up) and will impact family budgets. In addition, it will not add even one penny to road funds since the amount going to roads from the general fund will be reduced by the amount of the increased fuel tax.
  4. There’s no guarantee the Chamber/Our Schools Now won’t press for more tax increases…which their politicians can then again cave on to ‘save us all from a bigger tax increase’.

I will acknowledge that there was a small decrease in the income tax but overall the average citizen came out on the losing end since all this, along with the last few years of tax increases, is going to hit your family budget. But so long as our political betters and their buddies can continue to spend your cash like drunken sailors, we totally have the most fiscally conservative politicians….ever!

 

Don’t Be Fooled By OurSchoolsNow (AKA Salt Lake Chamber Of Commerce)

Elite political players (particularly the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce) is continuing to push their newest front group: “Our Schools Now”. I noted the Chamber’s newest tax-pushing alias in June along with the ‘fuzzy math’ they’re using to trick people into increasing burdens on Utah’s families (it’s actually big 18% tax increase).

The Chamber (via their alias) is continuing to push the tax hike they exempt themselves from and the coming new year is a good time to remind folks about their game. Click the above link for background on their math and the political insiders backing the increase. Also keep tabs on Libertas Institute as they are on top of the spin coming out from the Chamber as well. That includes reporting on budgetary misapplication (Another Education Ranking Shows Money Isn’t Everything):

…Our Schools Now has said previously, “Even 750 million [dollars] isn’t enough to solve the problems that we’re in.” In other words, no matter how much taxpayer money the Utah Legislature gives to the school system, it will never be enough—not only because funding has very little correlation to student outcomes, but because Utah’s $15+ billion budget looks very much like a leaky sieve when it comes to K-12 education spending. As the state adds taxpayer money to the general and education funds, a lot of it is siphoned off to transportation and higher education.

Utah doesn’t have a lack of funding problem, it has a budget prioritization problem. That is why, in the end, this tax increase initiative will do little to help teachers…

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 that’s about 18% again, however, the actual burden of the sales tax increase depends on how much you spend. Furthermore, 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).

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.

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.

SL Chamber, Political Insider Backed “Education First PAC” Officially Funding Shumway

Disclaimer: My father is on the Senate 23 race ballot but be aware that this blog is maintained separate from my father’s campaign and is not affiliated with his campaign.  His campaign items can be found at the citizensfortasfairness.org site.

In my post on December 21, 2011 “Utah Business PAC On Education: Taxes For Thee But Not For Me” I noted how monetarily and politically powerful groups/individuals had aligned themselves under the name “Education First PAC’.  In that post,  I also highlighted the fact that they were lobbying to significantly increase taxes on everyone else fortunately drawing some push back from Senator Waddoups.  I further noted that rather than use their money to directly further fund educational initiatives they have chose to use that money to lobby for a tax increase.  Prior to above post, I noted in another post that the PAC was after the Senate 23 seat and speculated that Shumway was their preferred candidate based on his associations and the quote from a Trib article:

Education First has no intention of unseating lawmakers it sees as hostile to education, but it will groom candidates to run for vacant legislative seats, such as that of Sen. Daniel Liljenquist, the Bountiful Republican who is resigning to mount a shot at Orrin Hatch’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

In an email, sent from the big lobbying firm, the Exoro Group, I think it is safe to say that the group is firmly behind Mr. Shumway and appears to be placing significant sums of money towards his campaign:

From: Kameron Lopez [Redacted]@exoro.com
To: [Redacted]
Sent: [Redacted]
Subject: Randy Shumway for State Senate

Randy Shumway
Candidate for State Senate

The Alta Club
100 East South Temple

Friday, January 6th
8:30 am to 9:15 am

Hosted by Mark Bouchard, Natalie Gochnour, and Bob Marquardt
Continental Breakfast and Beverages

Recommended donations: $250-$2,500.
Checks payable to Friends for Randy Shumway.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to donate,
please send checks payable to:

Friends for Randy Shumway
[Remainder redacted to protect personal information]

This confirmation should come as no surprise.  Just clicking the “About” page on the groups website reveals that Mr. Shumway is on the Steering Committee.  Take a look at the page as well for a who’s who of well established power players, several of whom attended Jowers’ meeting (ironically, also at the Alta Club) that served as a jump off point to neutralise the caucus system and who were also behind the rushed and flawed HB116.  The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce is represented in the group and was a huge pusher of HB116 and has consistently opposed effective E-Verify measures (identity verification by employers to protect victim identites and prevent illegal workers – fugitives/illegal immigrants/deadbeat parent etc – from obtaining the job.  The Exoro Group (which sent this email) coordinated the Jowers’ meeting.

Another thought: This fund raiser will also help build a war chest should he lose this delegate election thus preparing him for the next delegate selection (caucus) meetings and subsequent election.