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Poll: Utahns send mixed message on gas/transit taxes to Legislature

They strongly oppose gas tax hike but back higher sales tax for mass transit.

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Anderson and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, said they expect some discussion on the gas tax proposals, but do not see much support for them this election year. They said the Interim Transportation Committee is scheduled to take another year to look at a variety of options for raising funds needed for transportation — such as a tax on vehicle miles traveled (because Utahns now drive less, and alternative-fuel vehicles escape gas tax) or a sales tax on top of a gasoline tax.

Chambers of commerce have been leading a drive for higher taxes to fund an estimated $11 billion shortfall over 30 years for high-priority projects identified in the state’s unified transportation plan.

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H. David Burton, the former LDS Church presiding bishop who is co-chairman of the Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Transportation Coalition, said the poll numbers "certainly show we have more work to do, and there is skepticism in various segments of the community about the usefulness of depending on the gasoline tax" to meet transportation needs.

"That means we probably need to be more creative in how we fund the gap" for transportation projects, he said.

Van Tassell said he doesn’t see a gas tax hike passing this year "because there are a lot of people kicking around ideas, but I haven’t seen anything yet that brings everything together."

The poll interviewed 600 Utahns on Jan. 10-13. The statistical margin of error is between 3.9 and 4.1 percentage points, plus or minus.


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