Disappointingly, our win-win proposal to save money and water for Utahns was killed in Senate Committee at the Utah Legislature.
Earlier this session, Senator Jim Dabakis (D) and Senator Howard Stephenson (R) introduced our bill, SB 151, to reduce the property taxes you pay to water districts which encourage water waste. These property taxes are why Utah is America’s #1, highest municipal water user, per person. The bill would have put money back into the pockets of Utah residents and would help eliminate widespread water waste in Utah.
Speaking in support of SB 151 in Committee were URC staff, University of Utah economists, fiscal conservatives and concerned citizens. The ONLY people that spoke in opposition to the bill were the water districts who make millions collecting property taxes each year.
Yet one Senator claimed he was against the bill because he didn’t want to pay a huge water bill if his house caught on fire. The Senator apparently doesn’t know that the Fire Department does not charge people to put out fires and that these property taxes go to water districts not fire stations.
Another Senator said he was against the bill because it was a back-door way to stop the proposed $2.4 billion Bear River Development Project. Wait, let me get this straight – the bill would lower taxes and eliminate water waste, provide an alternative to spending billions of dollars on a destructive diversion that would devastate bird populations and create an air quality disaster on the Wasatch Front – and that’s a bad thing?
Over and over the Committee heard sob stories by special interests that receive millions of taxpayers dollars annually, but have virtually no accountability. Unfortunately, big money carried the day over facts, logic and the will of Utah taxpayers when committee members voted 4-2 to table the bill.
Read an article published by the Deseret News about the hearing here.
All of us here at the URC want to give a big thanks to everyone that came out and engaged legislators to help achieve a sustainable water future for Utah. We also want to remind everyone the fight is not over and the only way to win at the Utah Legislature is through endless pressure, endlessly applied.
It’s not too late to sign the petition in support of property tax relief for water today!