District 4 candidates debate role of severance taxes

There will be at least one new representative from Cache County when the new session of the Utah legislature convenes in January. That’s because Ed Redd defeated incumbent Republican David Butterfield and Redd now faces Democrat Doug Thompson in the November election.

Thompson has said that he and Redd are friends and that they agree on many issues. During a candidate debate on KVNU’s Crosstalk program, the former Logan mayor said we badly need more money for education and a severance tax may be the way to go.

A severance tax can be imposed by a state when non-renewable natural resources such as oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, etc. are extracted (or severed) within a taxing jurisdiction.

“If we got that severance tax, a minimal severance tax could produce about $500 million a year and would have a very minimal impact on consumers,” Thompson said. “Most of the coal in Utah is used to make electricity and there would be a minor increase in the individual’s tax bills, in the range of $.03.”

Redd said he, too, would support a severance tax as a way to get some badly needed money for education. He said a severance tax should be used for future generations, not money that should be spent right now.

“We should put it in a fund to fund the future, not fund the urgent needs of this moment right now. I think the future needs are almost as important as what we are dealing with right now,” Redd said. “So I think if we’re going to do severance tax money, because it’s a one time money that comes out of the ground and never gets replaced, I think we should put it in a fund.

“I think that would be a good way to increase the funding for education. It’s not going to increase it a lot right off the bat; it’s going to take a long time to build that up. It’s not going to be a really quick fix. But I don’t think you should use severance taxes for quick fixes because it’s a one-time kind of thing.”

It was not a feisty debate between the District 4 state representative candidates because Thompson and Redd have many of the same priorities–clean air, more money for pubic education and more bi-partisan solutions to the problems of the state. The winner of the race will replace Republican David Butterfield who was defeated by Redd in the Republican Primary.

To listen to the debate in its entirety, listen to the audio below.

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