by Howard Stephenson

At its recent annual conference the Utah Taxpayers Association honored two members of the Utah House of Representatives and a business official of Alpine School District for their excellence in service to taxpayers.

2006 Taxpayer Advocate – Rep. Wayne Harper

Since being elected to the Legislature in 1996, Rep. Wayne Harper has been a supporter of lower taxes and tax reform and has become the foremost tax expert in the Utah House of Representatives. As chair of House Revenue and Taxation and as co-chair with Sen. Curt Bramble of the Tax Reform Task Force, Rep. Harper has been instrumental in promoting key tax reform provisions, including:

1) Gov. Huntsman’s flatter individual income tax

2) Double weighted sales factor and single sales factor for corporate income tax apportionment, which benefits Utah’s high wage exporting industries such as IT and manufacturing

3) Eliminating sales taxes from business inputs, with particular emphasis on industries that export, pay high salaries, and improve productivity.

4) Defending Utah’s Truth-in-Taxation law which governs property tax rate calculations and is Utah’s most taxpayer-friendly law.

5) Leading the charge to eliminate “boutique” local option sales taxes

6) Expanding the circuit breaker program to include more elderly low-income property owners

For his work in reducing tax burdens on Utah’s individuals, families, and businesses, the Utah Taxpayers Association is proud to present its Taxpayer Advocate of the Year Award to Representative Wayne Harper.

2006 Taxpayer Advocate – Rep. Greg Hughes

When the tax reform process began a year and a half ago, most proponents of tax reform were insisting on revenue neutrality while others were insisting on tax increases. Fortunately, some legislators, like Rep.
Greg Hughes, believe that tax reform is a good opportunity to cut taxes, especially considering the 17.6% increase in general fund and school fund spending in FY2007 compared to the original FY2006 budget.

Rep. Hughes was an active member of the 2004 Income Tax Task Force and the 2005 Tax Reform Task Force where he consistently opposed proposals to increase tax burdens.

In the recent general session, most of the Legislature’s attention was focused on reducing individual income taxes and the sales tax food. With four hours left on the last night of the session, none of the business tax cuts had been released from the House Rules Committee. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Rep. Hughes organized fellow business-friendly legislators to push the bills onto the House floor.
Once these bills were on the floor, Rep Hughes spearheaded the effort to convince his fellow legislators to vote in support of the tax cuts.

For his work on behalf of taxpayers and on behalf of promoting economic growth in Utah, the Utah Taxpayers Association is proud to award this year’s Taxpayer Advocate of the Year to Rep. Greg Hughes.

2006 Excellence in Public Service – Greg Holbrook, Alpine School District

Greg Holbrook has been working for the Alpine School District for more than twenty years and is the district’s director of accounting. Mr.
Holbrook was instrumental in pioneering the way with GASB 34 implementation in Utah. In addition to achieving compliance with GASB 34 for Alpine, Mr. Holbrook provided technical assistance to his counterparts in other Utah school districts and CPAs throughout the state.

Mr. Holbrook also improved the accounting for school and district activity funds, and he also introduced changes that allowed the district to more accurately and efficiently track food service costs, which allowed the district to improve service quality and reduce costs. When other districts experienced increases in food costs, largely because of high fuel costs, Alpine ended the year with reduced costs from the year before, due to changes introduced by Mr. Holbrook.

For his work on behalf of taxpayers in improving school district accounting and reporting, the Association is proud to award this year’s Excellence in Public Service Award to Greg Holbrook.