A great benefit in membership with NFIB is the frequent opportunities it provides to talk personally with top state and federal elected officials and policymakers who directly affect the ability of small-business owners to own, operate and grow their enterprises.
One such opportunity occurred April 24 when Gov. Gary Herbert took an hour to answer questions from NFIB members throughout Utah. John from Murray, Diane from Springville, Delbert from Ephraim, Burke from Manti, and William from Salt Lake City availed themselves of the NFIB-member exclusive opportunity to directly question the state’s chief executive.
The NFIB/Utah Town Hall Teleconference was made possible by a generous donation from CenturyLink, whose assistant vice president, Eric Isom, joined Candace Daly, NFIB’s Utah state director, in hosting the event. During the teleconference, members were asked to vote on the tax they found the most burdensome, the results of which are in the sidebar to your right. This allowed Governor Herbert to comment on them in real time.
On other issues members had on their mind:
School Boards, Taxes
In answering a question about why so many school boards and the different taxes needed to finance their districts, the governor said local school boards were as important as any office in the state, yet most people don’t know who is elected to them. He encouraged small-business owners to take as much interest in them as other offices, but he cautioned against consolidating districts. “We could consolidate, but that would eliminate competition.”
Internet Sales Tax
Two callers came from slightly different angles on the Internet sales tax issue with questions for the governor. One, who owns a bricks-and-mortar business that collects it on each sale, asked where the fairness was in online retailers being able to avoid it, and the other caller, suggesting that lowering the state sales tax, rather than punishing online retailers, might be a better option.
Interestingly enough, the governor said the taxing of goods purchased on the Internet is already law in Utah. “You’re obligated to pay,” he said about customers. “But there are lots of lawbreakers out there.” The governor said Congress is trying to resolve the issue with the Marketplace Fairness Act.
Utah, he said, is missing out on an estimated $50 million worth of revenue from Internet taxes.
NFIB has taken a neutral position on the Marketplace Fairness Act, after nationwide balloting of its membership found them equally divided on the issue of Internet taxation.
When questioned on the value of trade missions, the governor reminded listeners to think in terms of customers, and 95 percent of the world’s customers are outside the United States. Governor Herbert was especially proud of his trade mission to Mexico to entice the world’s largest baking company (which also makes the Sara Lee brand) to start hiring Utah workers.
“We want to make sure we do it right, and I’d rather do it right than do it quick,” replied the governor to a question about why the state was moving so slowly on its part in the federal program.
Governor Herbert reminded listeners that gas taxes have remained low for quite a while, but that might have to change. “We need to figure a pathway forward to accommodate a growing state, or we’re going to suffer a declining quality of life as we sit in traffic.”
Other Comments From the Governor
- Governor Herbert said his administration took over just as the Great Recession was hitting and committed his team to creating 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days, a goal he said that will be achieved next month. Currently, he said, there have been 97,300 new jobs created so far.
- “Our tax policy in Utah is business friendly,” noted the governor, who said corporate income taxes have not been raised in 15 years.
- The governor said he has eliminated 368 state regulations and called on the federal government to get serious about doing the same by borrowing the Utah model, which he said has restored bond ratings to triple-A.
- An educated workforce is important to all economies, and Governor Herbert said Utah is serious about keeping up by adding 365 million “new dollars” to the state’s education budget.
- The governor encouraged listeners to send an email to Mike Mower at [email protected] if they see any regulation ripe for reform or repeal.
The governor thanked NFIB members for their time and said he would very much enjoy making chats with them a regular event.
You can listen to the entire Town Hall Teleconference right here.