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Tax credit for riding public transit advances in Utah House

Published February 24, 2014 3:34 pm

Clean air • Bills seek- to offer incentives during three months of worst pollution.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A bill to offer an income tax credit for buying monthly transit passes for bad-air months was resurrected and passed on Monday.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted 10-2 to pass HB55 on Monday. Ten days earlier, the panel had apparently killed the bill on a tie 7-7 vote.

Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, said her bill will offer a five-year test program to allow a state income-tax credit for buying monthly transit passes during January, February and July — the months when inversions and pollution are usually the worst.

It would allow a credit of 25 percent of the cost of passes, up to a total of $50.

The bill died previously because several members said they believe it will not attract new riders to help clean the air, but merely subsidize existing riders. Those objections were raised again.

"I don't see how this isn't anything more than a subsidy for those who already use it," said Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi. "You will pick up some [new riders] but I don't think it is anywhere near what you think."

But Poulson said the bill expires after five years, so lawmakers could evaluate its success then before deciding to extend or expand it.

Bruce Jones, general counsel for the Utah Transit Authority, said wording of the bill likely won't affect annual pass holders — so it should attract new riders wanting to try the system and help clear the air. He said UTA plans to feature the credit in advertising.

Legislative fiscal analysts estimate the credit would cost the state $477,000 a year. Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said the bill still must compete among numerous other clean-air bills for limited money available to fund them. "We'll sort out which bring the biggest bang for the buck," he said.