Usually, the kind of conservative Republicans who hold sway around here oppose taking money away from people so the government can turn around and spend it on programs to help those same people. Better, that line of thinking goes, to let people keep and spend their own money as they see fit.
People at low income levels see fit to spend nearly all of their money on the necessities of life, mostly rent and groceries. Lowering the out-of-pocket cost of those groceries helps those among us who are always counting pennies from payday to payday, putting off doctor visits, making due with old shoes, denying themselves to buy things for their children.
Raising it again would gain the state some revenue. But it would also add to the number of people who are teetering on the financial brink, pushing more of them to a situation where they need more state assistance.
A good change in Utah tax policy, meanwhile, would be to finally institute a state version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. That's a system — Ronald Reagan's favorite anti-poverty program — where people who earn paychecks too small to owe income taxes would receive a small tax refund anyway.
It's just the government's way of saying thank you for making the effort to support yourselves and your families. And a way of boosting the overall economy by giving money to the people who are the most likely to turn around and spend it, mostly on necessities, right away.
The latest proposal for such a credit now before the Legislature would be small and targeted to families trapped in "intergenerational poverty."
Lawmakers should adopt that proposal, examine the many plans to righten, tighten and otherwise update the long list of deductions, credits and loopholes. And leave the sales tax rate on groceries where it is.