SB 56: Transparency in Local Economic Development
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In the past, Libertas Institute has written about local tax exemptions that are given to new and existing companies in Utah. While the pursuit of economic development is not inherently a bad idea, the policies used to draw companies to a specific area can sometimes be suspect. Poor decisions are made to chase after retail businesses or to chip away at the local property tax base that funds local schools.
There’s also the matter of transparency; many Utahns have no idea how and when elected officials are handing out tax exemptions to favored businesses. A new website has been developed by Salt Lake County that transparently lists all tax incentive proposals, past and present, $1.3 billion in all. Every county in Utah should be just as transparent regarding their economic development projects, especially since these decisions affect the tax base so greatly.
Senator Deidre Henderson’s Senate Bill 56 aims to do that by requiring all counties to have a similar website available to the public. It’s a straightforward and basic level of transparency that has been sorely lacking in recent years. When something involves taxpayer dollars, then it should be relatively simple for any taxpayer to learn more about it.