Considering the makeup of the Utah Legislature, I do not find it surprising that anytime a piece of proposed legislation makes sense the bill gets bottled up in committee or caucus and never sees the light of day.
A prime example is House Bill 183, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Jones and Rep. Steve Mascaro. Jones is from the Democratic side of the aisle and Mascaro, who has distant relatives in Helper, is from the Republican side.
The bill would eliminate state income tax deductions for children and eliminate the 50 percent state deduction for federal income taxes paid.
HB-183 would produce $90 million for education in Utah. The bill would also make some adjustments in the state income tax rates across the board.
The changes in the income tax include dropping the top 7 percent rate, paid by two-thirds of Utahns, to 6.85 percent and having the top level kick in at $18,389 for a married couple rather than the present $8,626.
The results would be an extra $10 for a married couple with no children and an annual income of $75,000. A couple with an income of $100,000 would pay $208 more.
For a couple with two children, the $75,000 income would incur an additional $325and $100,000 would mean an additional $523.
A family of four children would see the increase on a $75,000 income at $640 and an increase of $838 on a $100,000 income.
The tax effects are based on standard deductions, not on itemized deductions.
The bill sponsors indicate that the federal deduction, now allowed on 50 percent of the federal tax, is negotiable and could be downsized.
Mascaro argues that it is not reasonable to expect parents with children to pay less in taxes for public education than residents who have no children at home.
Normally, such a legislative proposal would go to the Utah House of Representatives' revenue and taxation committee.
But the chairman of the committee has said he would not put the bill on the agenda unless the Republican Caucus had a strong sentiment for the proposed legislation.
Apparently, there is no support for the proposal among the members of Utah's dominant party.
Mascaro refused to concede the death of the bill, pointing out there is too much public support for the proposal.
Jones said it was disappointing and frustrating this bill was derailed without even going to the committee.
"Why not let the debate go on?" asks Jones. The Salt Lake representative maintains the proposal helps families and public education, a family oriented concept.
The two representatives do not intend to give up on the state income tax proposal, but time is running out with only seven days remaining in the 2003 legislative session.