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Senator outlines options for allocating surplus revenues in state budget

By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Utah Senator Mike Dmitrich indictates state matters went relatively smoothly at the beginning of the 2007 legislative session.

But now that tax bills have appeared on the docket, he predicts that the Utah Legislature will continue experiencing problems.

"I am of the opinion that when we have extra money, like we do in this years state coffers, we should pay off our debt and get ready for the years when there will be a downturn in the economy," said Dmitrich during a telephone interview last Thursday. "Both the house and the senate are hung up on a tax rebate, and I think that is not the way to go."

In years past when there has been a surplus in state revenues, the Utah Legislature has had the tendency to give the public back money.

But numerous polls conducted during the years have shown that most citizens would rather see the money go to such things as education or roads.

"Right now, because of that roadblock, things are not going anywhere," stated the senator. "But with only a couple of weeks to go things will have to move soon.'

Dmitrich also pointed out that at least a portion of the state's surplus revenues will be coming to Carbon County to fix a problem that has vexed the College of Eastern Utah for a few years.

"We were able to secure the funds to pay off CEU's debt that has been hanging over them for a long time," said the senator.

A second situation that will affect CEU is the fact that the Legislature plans to allow Utah State University to offer additional degrees at the local community college.

"I think that will be a very good thing," commented Dmitrich. "Right now, I think they only offer a handful of degrees and this legislation will increase that number by a lot."

Tax reform is also on the minds of many Utah lawmakers in 2007.

"I am sure there is going to be some type of income tax reform this year, but it won't be a complete flat tax like has been talked about," said Dmitrich. "It will be a modified flat tax with some exemptions left in. But it will favor lower income people."

The Utah Senate and House of Representatives apparently have different ideas on how to give tax relief to citizens.

"The House wants to take 2 percent off sales tax on food," explained Dmitrich. "We'll just have to see what comes out in the end."

"In my opinion, we have the money to give tax relief and pay off a lot of the states debt. Having that paid off will help us when the economy downturns. Our transportation bonding is pretty high and now is the time to pay that off," added the Utah senator.

Dmitrich indicated that he looks forward to the next couple of weeks and hopes some good things come out of the remainder of the 2007 legislative session for Carbon County.






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