What's more, this was proposed by a Republican legislator, and Utah House Republicans don't exactly have the reputation for these sorts of progressive ideas.
Well the money is coming via a sales tax which is regressive in nature, but still it's impressive that they're pushing forward.
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Utah, although conservative, has most of its population located in not in rural spaces like some neighboring states, but in a few urban areas (even if somewhat sprawling). I think this is more of a reaction to reality than anything else.
I think there's also the influence of the state's dominant religion's views toward community and social organization. The whole beehive thing. The Deseret News (Oct. 11, 1881) described the symbol of the beehive in this way: "The hive and honey bees form our communal coat of arms…. It is a significant representation of the industry, harmony, order and frugality of the people, and of the sweet results of their toil, union and intelligent cooperation."
If this has to go to the voters, opponents are going to say it is a bad idea to raise taxes during a recession. Not that I am against this, but it is just that I heard that argument, last year, during our campaign up here. ALthough perhaps things are different in Salt Lake City like you suggested. I think it will be interesting to see what happens. I listen off and on to podcasts of KSL Utah Afternoon News and KSL Nightside(partly because I am curious, and the latter, partly because of the guys funny take on the news) and they do not cut the commercials out, and during the election campaign season, they had Governor Huntsman's commercials, and he was celebrating the startup of FrontRunner in his campaign commercials! He won reelection, so the UTA is not as toxic as newspaper website comment thread trolls make it out to be.
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