If we work together, we can keep Utah's future strong and bright

Utah is on the move. Our state is one of the fastest growing in the nation with a population that is expected to nearly double in the coming decades. Our state is well-known as a great place to live, work, and play. Our growth provides incredible opportunities, but it also poses significant challenges. Our revenue structure is based on the economy of the last century. It has become clear we need to examine our revenue structure in order to address the growing imbalance in our state’s income, property, and sales tax.

During the 2019 General Session, the Utah State Legislature created the Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force to study these issues. I was appointed to this group and appreciate the opportunity to work on this important issue. Our task force currently has one job: to listen. Throughout the summer, we have been crisscrossing the state holding town halls in communities both large and small. I am grateful to every single person who has attended the open houses and meetings to learn and to share their views and ideas. I take my role on this task force seriously and have enjoyed being a part of this crucial discussion about Utah’s future.

This process is like baking a cake. We only end up with a great product if we start with the best ingredients, and for this recipe, the people of this state are our suppliers. I entered this process with an open mind and open ears, and I believe that my colleagues have done the same. Only by selecting the best possible combination of ideas and policies can we whip up something that will serve everyone, which may require some recipe testing in the months to come. Though, I believe it is worth taking the time to make sure we get this right.

Later this summer, following the listening tour, the task force will work on developing revenue restructuring suggestions that we hope will sustain our state’s continued success for the next 50 years and beyond. It will be challenging work, and I expect we will have difficult discussions regarding the best path forward.

In order to create policies that meet the needs of our growing and changing state, we need to hear from the people who will be affected by the outcome – that is every person, business, community, city, town, and county. The recommendations we make to the full Legislature and the policies that eventually become law will touch every aspect of our state. The stakes are too high to sit on the sidelines. It is my hope Utahns from all walks of life continue to engage in the public process and communicate their views as we work on solutions.

Utah is an extraordinary place to call home. We have a diverse population ranging from ranchers to refugees, farmers to financiers, homemakers to heavy equipment operators. Tourists flock our state to golf, hike, ski, and enjoy our natural wonders. The measures we make today will help assure our economy remains nimble and able to withstand the ups and downs that are inevitable in our future. This will be accomplished by working together to develop fair and sustainable policies. If we get this right, we will ensure Utah’s future is bright and all Utahns can share in the prosperity our state enjoys. 

Senator Karen Mayne serves as Senate Minority Leader and is a member of the Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force. Visit strongerfutures.utah.gov to get involved.

This op-ed ran in the
Salt Lake Tribune on July 21, 2019.