Sen. Lyle Hillyard ready to get back to work on tax reform

FILE - Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, speaks during an interview outside the Senate floor Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Salt Lake City. There were no proposed fixes to the state's tax structure discussed during the first meeting Thursday of a new legislative task force formed after lawmakers backed away last session from imposing sales taxes on services. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

LOGAN – Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, knew when he accepted the assignment to co-chair a tax reform task force “it was going to be a heavy lift.”

After working on tax reform in the 2019 Utah Legislative session, spending time at more than a dozen town hall meetings all over the state last summer to educate residents on the need for tax reform, and finally getting a bill passed in a special session in December, Hillyard is headed back to the drawing board.

Early Thursday morning, Gov. Gary Herbert, House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams announced the bill, SB2001, would be repealed when the legislature convenes on Monday, January 27.

The announcement came two days after opponents of the bill finished collecting tens of thousands of signatures to challenge it.

“When I heard the referendum had enough signatures, my immediate reaction was – I really feel sorry for the next governor,” Hillyard said. “Gov. Herbert knew exactly the problem. I’m really disappointed that not one of the governor candidates, that I know of, came to me or my committee to say what are you doing and why.”

Explaining what legislators were doing and why it did resonate with some residents on the “extreme right and the extreme left,” according to Hillyard, who said a number of groups around the state were on board with the tax reform bill. However, he said they didn’t anticipate the “misinformation” that was generated on social media.

Hillyard said he would often get phone calls from constituents complaining about certain aspects of the bill that were completely inaccurate. He said he spent a lot of time clearing up misconceptions.

“The bill was not exactly the way I like it either,” he conceded, “but you have to make compromises.”

SB2001 lowered the state income tax from 4.95% to 4.66% and offered tax breaks for low- to moderate-income residents. The package also added the sales tax to some service-based businesses and increased the sales tax on gas and unprepared food.

“I think when people understand the problem, they appreciated the fact that we’re trying to get it [tax reform] solved,” he said.

“We will take time to reset and address this issue in the future in a way that allows all Utahns to fully understand the challenge we face, engage in the debate over the best solutions and, ultimately, enact policy that best positions Utah for decades to come,” according to a statement from Gov. Herbert.

Since the announcement, Hillyard said he has been on the phone with the Governor’s office and leadership to “sort out what to do next.”

“We’re not going to go back to square one,” he said. “We have a lot of information and a lot of different options available. We need to find solutions.”

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  • Joe schmoe January 26, 2020 at 9:58 am Reply

    This is the face of the deep state in utah, lifetime politicians that don’t represent the people. We need term limits to give the people a voice.

  • FreeBird January 26, 2020 at 3:07 pm Reply

    Indeed! He has been in the government for over forty years, 10 years should be the maximum.
    I haven’t really ever figured out why nobody challenges his seat, but I soon hope that changes. Maybe he is a part of the Illuminati.
    We just need to watch what he does and build a coalition to counter it.

  • vernon nielson January 26, 2020 at 7:59 pm Reply

    Sen Hilllyard.
    How about addressing the spending problem in Utah. There are way to many programs that only benefit a small group of people that take money away from the needs of the entire state. Also Why does the government have programs and grants that try to entice more people to come to this state. It is a known fact that population growth does not produce enough taxes to support the services that people want. Also the more people, the more police, firemen, infrastructure, and services that are needed. I think that the government needs to go back to O based budgeting. Justify the money you spend every year, NOT based off of last year. That includes the school system also. One last thing, GET rid of all the illegal immigrants that are in this whole country and that would solve a whole range of problems that would benefit the entire country.!!!
    Thank you

    • Salinas January 27, 2020 at 11:02 am Reply

      Hahah that is what is helping the state hipocrite, do you know how much money the government takes from illegals workers??? That money never go back to them. That is used for everybody not just for their kids.

  • Travis January 26, 2020 at 9:54 pm Reply

    We were not misinformed. We just read the bill and saw past the garbage that they were trying to lie about.

  • CeJa' Beetle January 27, 2020 at 12:11 am Reply

    I emailed both Governer Herbert and Senator Hillyard in the days before the special session voted on SB2001. One of the governor’s aides sent me a PDF of his recent press release. None of my questions were answered. When I emailed Senator Hillyard his response was essentially that I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head about it, they’d figured everything out and I should just trust the ones who have the knowledge to understand. He would not respond to my questions and concerns. They knew folks had concerns about the bill. They were counting on the holidays to keep folks distracted. Well it didn’t work. Utahns care. We want our public servants to listen to us, give our thoughts weight, we want them to remember they work for us. We are their boss not the other way around.

  • Not Kermit Theee Frog January 27, 2020 at 1:41 am Reply

    This man is not listening. Don’t tax food, don’t tax services. Reform? Reform you say? Try this: Put your money where your mouth is. Volunteer to pay a higher food tax. After a couple of years let us know if you feel the same the same.

  • kenneth January 27, 2020 at 6:54 am Reply

    Totally eliminate tax on food simplify it so we know you’re not cheating us.

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