Taxes*

2020 Concern

Updated May 2022

*See Economy

  update below

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RETURNING TO EVERYONE PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE OF TAXES

THE SYMPTOM

Our State Legislature Is Not Serious About Tax Refunds or Tax Reform

In the short space of two long years, instead of concerns over

 

1. spending cuts "Utah braces for budget cuts brought on by COVID-19," Fox 13 (May 11, 2020), "Utah  economic recovery could take years, lawmakers warn," Deseret News (May 12, 2020), "Pandemic blows holes in state budget," Standard-Examiner (May 20, 2020)"On chopping block:  Funding for school, social services," The Salt Lake Tribune (June 3, 2020), our State Legislature in 2022 focused on "small" and "insignificant"

2. tax cuts with our burgeoning two billion dollar state surplus because of our strong economy.  Our 2022 Utah Legislature is providing a family of four making $72,000 a year a $100 tax reduction (less than a season Lagoon pass) or less than $8 a month (less than the cost of two gallons of gasoline).  The typical family is literally not going to go anywhere with the symbolic almost ludicrous tax cut that our State Legislature along with our current Republican state representative supported.  "Utah Legislature’s drive to cut income tax rates is all for show, the Editorial Board writes," The Salt Lake Tribune (February 6, 2022).

While most of us suffered as inflation has become a huge problem, the rich only became richer, well ahead of inflation.  The nation's Chief Executive Officers averaged 31% more in compensation last year as reported in the Deseret News (April 27, 2022).

Our current tax structure likely hurts you and the low and moderate-income families as well as our senior citizens, your parents or grandparents.  In the past years, our State Legislature rushed through important changes in our tax laws and went after our pocketbooks without affording the public the opportunity to attend committee hearings and bypass the regular legislative process again using a special session.   

The problem with our Utah state legislative efforts to change our tax system is that these efforts continue to benefit the rich who least need tax reform ("Utah tax 'reform' should be rejected," The Salt Lake Tribune, December 12, 2019, "Top earners would benefit most from Utah tax reform," The Salt Lake Tribune, October 29, 2019).  While understandably our State and the public have been focused on trying to improve public education, the real problem maybe the diminishing income value of the middle class that has been the foundation of the economic vitality of our nation.  "From 1979 to 2017, as the average real annual wages of the top 1 percent of Americans rose 156 percent (and the top. 01 percent's wages rose by a stunning 343 percent), the purchasing power of the average American's paycheck did not increase."   Nick, Hanauer, Better Schools Won’t Fix America, The Atlantic Magazine, July 2019; See also "Is a booming economy hiding working-class suffering?  A look at who is thriving and who is not," Deseret News, February 20, 2020.  Mr. Hanauer argues that the problem is that the rest of us, the bottom 90 percent of the population, are forced into trying to divvy up a shrinking share of the national wealth while the rest is siphoned off by the increasingly wealthy dynasties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SOLUTION

WE NEED TO REVISIT WHAT IT MEANS TO PAY OUR "FAIR SHARE" and consider returning to our cherished values of hard work and the shared sacrifice of our grandparents.  The 1776 Declaration of Independence held that every person is endowed with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Why do we work so hard and long?  How do we pursue happiness?  What do we mean by "fair share" and "hard work"?  Most middle-class workers put in long hours of either physical or mental labor paid through a salary or by the hour.  Over the past decades, a whole new class of wealth-generating activity has arisen where money by itself generates money through investments and stock market speculation, where people pay other people to create money wealth that requires no actual physical or mental labor in and by itself.  And the obsessive accumulation of wealth has also contributed to the irrational dream that money brings happiness which it does notStudies have established that excessive money does not bring more happiness.

Our Legislative District deserves a State Representative who understands the burden that the hard-working middle class in our community and contending with increasing property and sales taxes, and government fees in the face of possible budget surpluses that don't seem to provide any relief.  I commit to:

  • Working to pass government TAX REFORM LAWS that involve Utahns paying their "fair share" of government services, making sure that those families earning over a million dollars a year contribute their share of the burden of operating our state and local governments.

  • Increasing  TRANSPARENCY by researching and making sure that the residents of Northern Davis County understand in detail how much and where government revenue is actually coming from to operate State government programs each year, including how much internet sales taxes have helped to balance the loss of retail sales from our bricks and mortar stores, which has been estimated to add between $30 million to $70 million dollars each year to the state budget, according to Brett Hastings of Utah Legislative Watch, at a United Women's Forum on January 8, 2020.

  • Involving LOCAL RESIDENTS, especially those educated in accounting and economics to help develop our own Community position on tax reform and then directly involving local residents in helping your State Representative to come up with our own position on how we pay taxes and spend your money for government services.  See the movie Dave (1993) starring Kevin Kline who as a stand-in for the real President brings in his neighborhood friend, a certified public accountant, to help with developing the federal budget.

[During several months last year, the idea of endorsing a flat tax as a compromise proposal appeared to be a possibility.  Yet like a Rubik's Cube, the complexity of our current tax system, changing one part of our existing tax system changed the level of taxation for another segment of our population.  Looking more into the idea of a flat tax ended up with the predominate research and studies suggesting that as typically presented, a flat tax more likely than not resulted in a reduction of the overall effective tax rate for rich people and a likely increase in the effective tax rate for middle-class families.  The reasoning for this conclusion came from the fact that the use of the flat tax as typically presented called for the elimination of various other forms of taxes that rich people currently pay and in order to offset their loss of revenue, a flat tax would need to be increased resulting in a higher overall flat tax rate for those in the low and middle income tax brackets.]

*Economy
2018 Concern
Updated November 1, 2020

Open Sign
Real Estate Contract with Pen and Calculator
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Clinton businesses along 1800

May 23, 2022

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West Point Pharmacy, Heart and Soul Family Medicine, and Mountain Physical Therapy shown here.  May 18, 2022.

Over two years ago on January 7, 2020, I stressed the importance of more local business development providing for the needs of our growing communities.  We can benefit from a state legislator who has been consistently looking out for the interest of our own community for years.

Inflation and High Prices

New June 2022

[In talking to a West Point resident last month, he read over my March-August 2022 flyer, asked me specifically when my survey was conducted and noted how inflation was not included in my flyer.  He then implied how I may be missing a very important issue that the public deserved to hear from me about INFLATION as a candidate for public office, something that obviously is now impacting every one of us in a negative way in the Legislative District.]  

THE PROBLEM

Everyone in our Country is experiencing dramatically higher prices from the cost of housing and its impact on property taxes to increasing gasoline prices, water and utility fees, food, and even the less obvious paying more in sales taxes.

Our local markets and prices are now becoming more and more entangled and dependent on interstate commerce and the global economy.  Supply chain problems and the huge increase in consumer demand now that the effects of COVID-19 are diminishing, for now, have outstripped the ability of suppliers to meet our demands for more goods and services after they cut back their inventories last year. 

Utah's economy compared to almost all other states in our Country has weathered fairly well though our two billion dollar surplus that our State Legislature decided to keep most of in reserve has been taken out of our economy and fails to help Utahns pay for the increased costs we are all suffering.  Our state government has been using our tax dollars to entice major national corporations into Utah which has contributed to our exploding growth in population that has at the same contributed to the increased demand and pressure to build new more expensive housing.  Grocery chains and department stores are now focused on importing both food and consumer goods from the far reaches of our planet that require more expensive transportation costs, increasing road congestion, polluting our air, increasing the chances of aging produce, freight damage and even higher return costs all contributing to higher prices and inflation.

THE SOLUTION

  • Develop a Utah first policy where Utah does not have to depend as much on outside market fluctuations.

  • Reduce the importation of national companies using our tax dollars that contributes to excessive growth, bringing in their own employees and focus instead on investing in our own local business growth and retaining our own values.

  • Preserve and provide more incentives for local agriculture to supply our own food demands, reducing transportation costs while offering fresher and healthier produce.

  • Develop our own state retail and service website for local businesses, where delivery of goods and services can more quickly reach homes and exchanges and refunds can be handled more efficiently at reduced costs to businesses.

  • Reduce our State's emphasis on continued unsustainable growth that only puts more pressure on increasing demand over supply that contributes to inflation and instead focus on quality of life over quantity of life.

Helping Our Businesses while

Protecting Employees and Consumers

 

[Important Policy Issues impacting our neighborhoods are not just topics that come and go in the night like media news reports.  They are persistent and enduring unless they are addressed directly and time taken to actually solve.  The comments below are almost two years old, unless otherwise indicated.  The problems such as our economy have not really changed that much but have become worse with the Pandemic.  Most of the solutions however remain the same and you deserve a Representative who will stay the course and continue to focus on the real problems, their causes, and who has kept the focus these past four years on the real solutions to our problems.  April 17, 2022.  Tab L. Uno]

Instead of downplaying the cost of a state-wide shut down to protect lives and our health in order to supposedly save our state economy, too many politicians have ignored the potentially devastating impact on thousands of survivors of COVID-19 who haven't died and who are unable to go back to work and help our economic grow.  Instead they face an uncertain future of dementia-like "brain fog" clouding their ability to remain employed or to even live a normal life.  Thousands of more jobs may be lost because of our continued refusal to admit to the seriousness of this national novel viral infection and hurt our economy even more.  ‘I Feel Like I Have Dementia’: Brain Fog Plagues Covid Survivors,' The New York Times (October 12, 2020).

Updated in italics May 2022: 

The many residents who have survived COVID-19 infections and still experience the lingering sometimes devastating ill effects will need patient compassionate time and recovery getting back to work and:

  • a form of COVID-related leave from work

  • physical and mental therapy to recover as much as possible so they can continue to contribute to our economy and their families

 

Residents more than ever need to see that their tax dollars are invested into those businesses that will give back the biggest community returns for our dollars:

  • getting employees back to work

  • ensuring employee and consumer health protections. 

 

Instead our State Legislature and Governor want to protect businesses from even negligent disregard for our health and safety by passing liability immunity for businesses.  "Guv signs bill giving immunity to businesses," The Salt Lake Tribune (May 5, 2020).  Instead a reasonable middle of the road solution should have been to enact laws that recognized the precious value of human life along with lawful expectations that businesses would adhere to public safety standards to protect its employees and consumers from the Coronas Virus.  It's government's responsibility not an employee nor the consumer to have to worry about understanding and inspecting each business each time they go to work or go to shop to ensure that their well-being is being protected.  "Their dad died after a COVID-19 outbreak at work. Utah has made it difficult for them to sue," The Salt Lake Tribune (September 6, 2020).

It will be the vital and healthy middle class healthy residents that will help drive our economy back from recession.  But we cannot underestimate the devastating impact of COVID-19 has on the health of our hardworking residents.  "Utah coronavirus patients experience long-term effects from COVID-19," The Salt Lake Tribune (September 7, 2020).  As more and more people are able to spend for more and more goods and services, our businesses will be able to hire more people and increase sales and commercial property taxes.

The Corona Virus has demonstrated the importance to invest in local businesses instead of spending tens of millions of dollars in tax subsidies to bring out of state corporations that only serves to bring more people from out state to Utah, increasing traffic congestion, driving up housing costs, and contributes to over development that pollutes our environment and changes our way of life. 

Let's restart our economy with sound policies that won't jeopardize the hard sacrifices we have already made.

It's time to stop subsidizing corporations, our policy of government-business welfare, to move to Utah and instead begin to focus on the quality of life not the quantity of over-development that has created a housing shortage and rapid acceleration of housing development that is destroying our state's pristine open spaces and rural environment, creating more traffic congestion, and unacceptable, unhealthy pollution.

Our state needs to promote self-sufficiency and focus on local businesses hiring local residents.  The foundation of and employee-generator and innovator in this Country has been small business that provides those goods and services that we really need and want.  Let's keep it that way.

January 23, 2022.  Automation has arrived at SAMS Club in Layton.  What's next?

Who's next?

Robot

Our Jobs Threatened by Artificial Intelligence and Automation

 

THE PROBLEM

 

The future is here.  More and more human jobs are being eliminated as automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence used by corporations save labor costs, earn profits, and replace humans "Soaring joblessness could shake U.S. economy, politics for years," The Washington Post (May 8, 2020).  Already, more and more consumers are using self-service machines providing services that used to be provided by human beings.   

  • Gasoline service station pumps

  • Grocery store check-out lines

  • Drive-through ATM machines

  • On-line purchases

A new study by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C. think tank..."predicted that Salt Lake and Ogden-Clearfield would be among the 10 top regions in the United States for workforces impacted by artificial intelligence," Deseret News, (December 7, 2019)This new study reveals how artificial intelligence may now extend to impacting middle class white-collar jobs in the fields of health care, finance, insurance, and information services in addition to manufacturing and agricultural jobs that have already been experiencing AI effects.  Walmart appears to be proposing to cut hourly supervisor and assistant manager positions, hitting the white collar middle class the hardest while it replaces other employees with robots to stock shelves, sort deliveries, scrub floors." "Walmart employees say they're preparing for job cuts as retailer rolls out its 'Great Workplace' program," The Washington Post (February 18, 2020).  

 

THE SOLUTION

There was a time when automation was being called a miracle to make our lives more convenient and more productive.  Yet it seems that most of the benefits may now be going to those large corporations that have acquired the means to purchase and own automated devices and use artificial intelligence to replace low income and middle class jobs.  Perhaps it's time for our state representative to call for a compensation on behalf of the thousands of employees who are being replaced by technology.  Perhaps our society and ordinary people should also reap the benefits of automation that are enjoyed by employers and corporations that now get to retain the corporate earnings of technology.  Perhaps it's time for states severely impacted by automation and artificial intelligence to tax such robotic equipment and artificial intelligent services so that you and I can also enjoy the benefits of these scientific discoveries and progress.

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A Mini-Vendors' Fair in Clearfield held on June 20, 2020.

Our Farms On The Verge Of Failure

The COVID-19 has devastated much of the crucial commercial markets our local farms need to survive.  Deseret News (April 8, 2020).  Our local farms now more than ever before need State and local resident support to continue operating and so that we and our families will have affordable and adequate food to eat.  Instead of allowing our sales dollars to flow outside our community (especially to out of state online corporations), we need to keep and retain our own valuable pocketbooks and buy from and sell to each other.  I am committed to expanding and transforming our farmer markets into a community-wide commercial vendors' market that would become a destination business center for the County year round.

Our precious farmland is a special local resource that benefits families with more healthy and better tasting food.  The availability of such food closer to the people also protects our environment through reducing transportation and distribution resources and costs.  Such productive land should not be taken away lightly.  Local government use of eminent domain to take property away from private owners has been traditionally reserved for redevelopment purposes to improve blighted or difficult to develop property not simply for more housing and business development.  The use of the government's power to take farmland away from private citizens should only occur as a last resort after other, even moderately more expensive, options have been considered. Utah instead needs to consider the promotion of government-university sponsored research and pilot projects into the feasibility of transforming our local farms into productive farmland year round. 

COMMITTED TO PASSING DAVIS COUNTY URBAN FARM ORDINANCE  [New May 2022]

 

The Utah State Legislature recently passed a law allowing local communities to approve urban farms in their cities that offers tax benefits with one-acre or more lots for growing produce to help out with our local agricultural needs.  But either not enough Davis County Commissioners are supportive or possible problems with our State law may be stumbling blocks to urban farms in our County.  Utah needs to reduce its dependence on foreign markets for our own food.  If elected, I will push hard to elect or influence more County Commissioners and amend laws that will promote urban farms in our communities. 

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Our Businesses Deserve Educated and Qualified Utah Employees. 

 

 

Utah had some of the lowest unemployment rates in years and Utah employers found it more and more difficult to hire educated and qualified employees they need  "Utah is facing a major worker shortage," Deseret News (January 14, 2020).  Instead of businesses having to hire more and more employees from out of state or experience a labor shortage in the future, more Utah residents need better access to higher education opportunities, childcare, and affordable housing.  Utah needs an educated, healthy local workforce using their skills in meaningful employment to stay number one.

 

  • Look into the economic feasibility of offering “reduced cost" higher education programs for residents committed to working for Utah businesses. 

  • Opening up to the idea of business tax credits or deductions for providing on-site child care services for operating costs for private contractors and capital expenditures for construction or remodeling of child care rooms or centers that offer child care that has often been difficult for employees and owners to find and afford.

  • Explore non-traditional housing options such smaller housing designs to lower the exorbitant cost of housing for Utah employees, especially for Millennials and lower-income employees, and carefully plan neighborhoods based on sustainable urban-design principles to accommodate moderate increases in housing density to minimize their impact on our communities.