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Protecting and Defending Taxpayers in the 2017 Legislative Session

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Protecting and Defending Taxpayers in the 2017 Legislative Session


The Utah Taxpayers Association defends taxpayers against unnecessary tax increases and wasteful government spending. The Association is also dedicated to promoting sound policy that keep taxes fair and transparent for all Utahns. Here are the bills that the Association is working to pass this session to protect Utah taxpayers.

Special Service District Reform (SB 94)Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. Utah’s special service districts are the state’s hidden layer of government. To bring this level of government to light your Taxpayers Association is supporting legislation to ensure property tax increases by these entities are done with proper representation and full disclosure.

Transparency in tax increases on the ballot (SB 150)Sen. Deidre Henderson. Under current law, the true cost of a bond placed on the general election ballot is near the bottom of the bond proposal description. This legislation will require that the true cost of bonds are mentioned first in the description on the ballot to give taxpayers the full understanding of what is being asked of them.

Limiting the use of enterprise funds for general fund purposes in city budgets (HB 164) – Rep. Jefferson Moss. Taxpayers in Utah may face unseen tax increases as local entities may use increased fees in enterprise funds –such as utility services – to fund general fund services to avoid pursuing a property tax increase. This legislation will bring greater transparency to the enterprise funds and how dollars from these funds are used.

Increasing transparency for impact fees (HB 89) – Rep. John Knotwell. Modifies the reporting requirements for local governments that collect impact fees to bring about greater transparency in how the fees are collected and spent.

Protecting school districts from giving away millions of taxpayer dollars to developers (SB 142Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. Limits Utah school districts ability to participate in tax increment financing programs that allow school districts to give up future property tax revenues to companies that are building within their boundaries.

Utah 2.0: Paving the way for a brighter economic future through decreasing the tax burden on Utah businesses (YoutubeCreates a strong economic climate for businesses that have a local presence to grow and expand. Lessens Utah’s tax burden on businesses to make the state more attractive for companies looking to locate here. Calls for aligning Utah’s education system to the needs of the state’s employers.

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The Utah Taxpayer – Newsletters

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The Utah Taxpayer – Newsletters


Monthly Newsletter

The Utah Taxpayer”

The Utah Taxpayers Association publishes a monthly newsletter, The Utah Taxpayer. Email spencer@utahtaxpayers.org to have the newsletter sent to your inbox every month.

 

March 2017 Newsletter
– Efforts Towards Major Tax Reforms in Utah Stalls, Work to Continue Throughout the Year
– My Corner: Appropriate Bonding Respects Taxpayers
– Guest Commentary: More Bonding Transparency
– Late Tax-Related Legislation Drafted, Other Bills Progress During 2017 Session
– Transparency-in-Taxation Bills Move Forward During the 2017 Legislative Session
– Utah Taxpayers Association Policy Brief: 911 Fees
– Your Taxpayers Association Accomplishments in February

February 2017 Newsletter
– Cities Escaping Truth-in-Taxation Process through Excess Utility Fees
– My Corner: Increasing the Income Tax is Risky Business, Other Options Should be Considered
– Transparency for Taxpayers Among Key Issues Association Working Towards During 2017 Session
– Utah’s Tax and Fee Burden Decreases, Taxes Remain Below the National Average
– 2017 Legislative Outlook Conference Previews Top Issues from Key Policymakers

January 2017 Newsletter
– Economic Viability, Transparency Key Issues as 2017 Session Set to Begin
– My Corner: The Dangers of Increasing Utah’s Income Taxes
– Guest Commentary: The Cost of Yesterday’s Pension Promises to Public Education
– Herbert’s Latest Budget Proposal Includes Review of Tax System
– 2017 Legislative Outlook Conference Previews Proposed Tax Increase
– Your Association Accomplishments in December

December 2016 Newsletter
– Utahns Voluntarily Contribute just $8,803 in 2014 to Public Education
– My Corner: Ballot Question for $750 Million income Tax Increase for Public Education Will Fail, Create Lasting Ill-Will
– Taxpayers Win on the November Ballot on Schools, Parks, Elected Officials
– Forbes Magazine Ranks Utah as the Top State for Business
– Changes to Solar Tax Credits, Continued Push on Utah 2.0 Make Progress Heading into 2017 General Session
– Board of Directors Elected an Annual Member Meeting
– Officials in Weber County Approve Property Tax Increase
– Your Association Accomplishments in November

November 2016 Newsletter
– Improving Utah’s Business Climate Through Utah 2.0: More Progress to be Made in 2017
– My Corner: It’s Time to End Government Agency Entitlements
– Taxpayers Association Endorses Pleasant Grove Public Safety Bond
– Truth-in-Taxation Hearings for 9 of Utah’s 29 Counties
– Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee Looking at Amending Utah’s Greenbelt Law
– Utah’s Tax Watchdog Meets with Other Watchdogs at Vegas Conferences
– Utah Taxpayers Deserve Confidentiality Throughout the Entire Property Valuation Appeals Process
– Your Taxpayers Association Accomplishments During October

October 2016 Newsletter
– Understanding Bonding Principles: Impacts and Uses
– My Corner: Are Increased County Appeals in Centrally Assessed Cases a Concern?
– Op-Ed: The ‘Cost of Cool’
– Tax Increment Financing, Education Equalization Tops Tax Issues During September Interim Meetings
– Guest Op-Ed: If Water Price Reflected Its True Cost, Utahns Would Conserve More
– An Explanation of Constitutional Amendment C and Leased Property Tax Exemptions
– Association Accomplishments in September

September 2016 Newsletter
– Redevelopment Agencies Colelct more than $166 Million Annually, 53% from School Districts
– My Corner: Don’t Let a Famous Company Dazzle Us into a Bad Deal
– Tax Review Commission Hits Pause on Single Sales Factor Apportionment
– Average Annual Teacher Compensation Exceeds $100,000 in One School District
– Utah Cities Named Best Places to Start A Business
– Association Accomplishments in August

August 2016 Newsletter
– Taxpayers Association Wins Free Speech Lawsuit Regarding HB 43
– My Corner: Something Smells in Utah’s Special Service Districts
– Expanding the Elimination of Sales Tax for Inputs in July’s Special Session, and Other Items
– Appealing the County’s Valuation of your Property
– Association Releases Annual Cost of City Government Report
– Association Hired New Executive Assistant
– Association Accomplishments in July

July 2016 Newsletter
– 19 Cities, 9 School Districts, 3 Special Service Districts Increasing Taxes
– My Corner: Cities Grasp at Straws Through Utility Fees for Transportation
– Local Building Authorities Circumvent the Will of the Voters
– Taxpayers Association Testifies in Support of Single Sales Factor for All
– Association Releases How Utah Compares Report
– Association Accomplishments in June

June 2016 Newsletter
– Are My Property Taxes Going Up?
– My Corner: State School Board Elections Crucial to Education Reform
– Gubernatorial Candidates Discuss Weigh In at 38th Annual Taxes Now Conference
– Utah’s Rainy Day Fund – An Example to the Nation
– Tax Review Commission Examines Expansion of Single Sales Factor
– Association Accomplishments in May

May 2016 Newsletter
– Utah Tax Freedom Day: April 21st
– My Corner: Restoring Funding through a Special Session a Better Option
– ALEC Ranks Utah #1 Nationally for Economic Outlook
– Candidates for Governor to Speak at Utah Taxes Now Conference
— Tax Review Commission to Study Utah 2.0 Key Components
– Elected Officials Tax Bootcamp Held Successfully
– Association Accomplishments in April

April 2016 Newsletter
– Victories, Progress Made During the 2016 Legislative Session
– My Corner: New Item on Property Tax Notice Does Not Impose New Taxes
– Legislative Scorecard Released and “Friend of the Taxpayer” Recipients Named
– Tax Day and Your Income Taxes: A Brief Description and Comparison
– Save the Date! “Teed Off on Taxes” Golf Tournament and Taxes Now Conference Date Announced
– Veiled Threat to Taxpayers Continues After Senate Rejects Removing Local Option Sales Tax
– Association Accomplishments in March

March 2016 Newsletter
– HB 61 – Creating and Building a Stronger Business Climate for all Utahns
– My Corner: Utah 2.0 Advances During the 2016 Legislative Session
– Utah Taxpayers Association 2016 Watchlist
– Guest Commentary: Reevaluating Salt Lake County’s Equestrian Center, by Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton
– Save the Date! “Teed Off on Taxes” Golf Tournament Date Announced
– The Debate Around Income Taxes Continues on Capitol Hill
– Association Accomplishments in February

February 2016 Newsletter
– Utah 2.0 – Clearing the Hurdle of Sales Tax Inequity for Utah’s Manufacturers
– My Corner: Will Utah Find a Solution to Remote Sales?
– Utah Taxpayers Association 2016 Watchlist
– Pre-Legislative Conference A Success, Featuring State and Local Leaders
– 2016 Legislative Committee Meetings, Join Us Thursdays at 7am
– Association Accomplishments in January

January 2016 Newsletter
– Utah 2.0 – Ensuring Utah’s Economic Viability
– My Corner: The Keys to Prosperity
– Board of Directors Elected at Annual Member Meeting
– Salt Lake County Approves $9.4 Million Tax Increase
– Utah Taxpayers Association Conference and Legislative Events
– Association Accomplishments in December

December 2015 Newsletter
– Utahns to Pay More Taxes at the Pump Beginning in 2016
– My Corner: Utah’s Cell Phone Taxes Going Up as Cell Phone Bills Drop
– Your Taxpayers Association is Suing the State to Protect Free Speech of Associations Speech
– Salt Lake, Cache, Sevier counties on the Verge of Approving Property Tax Increases
– Taxpayers Association Continues Headway on Single Sales Factor, Priorities into 2016 Legislative Session
– Association Accomplishments in November

November 2015 Newsletter
– State General Fund Revenues Down Due to Sales, Severance Tax
– My Corner: Governor Herbert Leaves State School Board Nominating Process in Question
– A Brief Recap of Multiple Tax-Related Issues on this Year’s Ballot
– Counties and Special Service Districts Statewide Hold Truth in Taxation Hearings Starting in November
– Utah Tax Review Commission Nears Decisions on Sales Tax Earmarks
– Charitable Giving by Individuals Affected as Officials Raise, Lower Taxes
– Association Accomplishments in October

October 2015 Newsletter
– Multiple Tax-Related Ballot Questions on This Year’s Ballot
– My Corner: Salt Lake County Mayor and Council to Break 20 Year Promise?
– New Special Service District in Davis County Proposed by the South Davis Metro Fire Agency
– Utah’s Tax Review Commission to Look at Other States’ Earmarking Practices
– Association Accomplishments During September
– Transportation and Mass Transit Sales Tax Referendum: Proposition 1 Pros and Cons

September 2015 Newsletter
– Taxpayers Win in Special Session with the Passage of Senate Bill 1001
– My Corner: Phase-in option appropriate for Single Sales Factor Legislation
– Tax Hikes Approved by 30 Entities, Recap from Truth and Taxation Hearings
– Taxing Manufacturing Inputs Hurts Utah’s Record as a Business-friendly State
– Utah Taxpayers Association Welcomes New Research Analyst
– Association Accomplishments During August

– Expanding Single Sales Factor Apportionment is Key to Utah’s Economic Growth
– My Corner: UTOPIA Network Digging Deeper Into Debt
– Truth-in-Taxation: The 5 Worst Proposed Property Tax Hikes of 2015
– Appealing the County’s Valuation of Your Property: How to get Comparable Sales Data
– Salt Lake County Backs Off Harmful Tax Appeal Rules, Utah Taxpayers Association leads fight against unfair rule changes
– 2015 Cost of City Governments Report Released
– Increased Highway Funding Essential: Let’s Choose the Right Tool
– Complete 2015 School Spending Report Released
– Association Accomplishments During July
– Rethinking General Tax Subsidies for Funding Highways and Water
– My Corner: Salt Lake, Granite, Murray and Grand School Districts Proposing Misleading and Unjustifiable Property Tax Increases
– Which Local Taxing Entities Are Raising Property Taxes This Year?
– Congressman Chaffetz’s Sales Tax Equity Legislation Deserves Consideration
– Rebecca L. Rockwell Confirmed to the Utah State Tax Commission
– Utah State Tax Commission Announces New Reconciliation Requirements
– Bad Data Inhibits Utah Schools’ Accountability
– Association Accomplishments During June
– Counties Should Reject the Local Option Sales Tax for Roads
– My Corner: Why Utah’s Rank on Per Student Spending Is Just One Data Point – Not a Vice
– Are My Property Taxes Going Up This Fall? An Early Look at Truth in Taxation Hearings this August
– 37th Annual Utah Taxes Now Conference Review
– R. Bruce Johnson Receives Lifetime Service Award
– Taxpayer Watchdog Award Presented to the Special Fraud Group of the Utah State Tax Commission
– Taxpayers Association Welcomes New Executive Assistant
– Association Accomplishments During May
– Utah County’s BRT Project: a Tax Increase or Financial Wizardry?
– My Corner: What Is Needed to Keep Utah’s Economic Engine Humming?
– Utah’s Economic Outlook Ranks #1 Nationally for Eighth Year in a Row
– 2015 “School Spending Report” Released
– A Day in the Life of a Regulated American Family
– Utah Taxes Now Conference May 28th: Keynote Speaker Announced
– Teed Off On Taxes Golf Tournament June 11th
– Association Accomplishments During April
– 2015 Utah Taxes Now Conference Tentative Agenda

April 2015 Newsletter

– Taxpayers To Pay More Following 2015 Legislative Session
– My Corner: Education Funding – Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
– Legislative Scorecard Released and “Friend of the Taxpayer” Award Recipients Named
– Legislative Wrap-Up and Taxpayer Wins
– Letter to the Governor: Veto SB 97
– Estimating the Fiscal Impact of Proposed Legislation
– Association Accomplishments During March

March 2015 Newsletter

– What Will Happen to Utah’s Gas Tax? A comparison of transportation funding bills
– My Corner: Tax Increases in a Surplus Year the Wrong Way to Go
– Healthy Utah 2.0 and the Taxpayer Perspective on Medicaid Expansion
– The 2015 Legislature’s Best and Worst Bills for Utah Taxpayers
– Legislative Watchlist: Priority Bills and Legislative Highlights
– Upcoming Association Events
– Association Accomplishments During February

February 2015 Newsletter

– Healthy Utah Inappropriately Deepens Utah’s Relationship with Obamacare
– My Corner: Truth-in-Taxation for the Motor Fuel Tax
– Utah Must Continue Tax Reform or Risk Losing Its Tax Advantage to Other States
– Association Hosts Successful Conferences
– Cost of County Governments Report Released
– Macquarie Releases UTOPIA Milestone Two Report
– Utah Taxpayers Association Legislative Watchlist: Priority Bills and Legislative Highlights
– Association Accomplishments During January

January 2015 Newsletter

– Utah Should Wait on Medicaid Expansion Until the Supreme Court Makes Upcoming Obamacare Ruling
– My Corner: Is Prison Relocation Good for Taxpayers?
– Upcoming 2015 Legislative Priorities
– Federal Communications Commission Moving Forward With a $1.5 Billion Tax Hike
– Report Card on American Education
– FY 2012 How Utah Compares Report Released
– Upcoming Association Events
– Association Accomplishments During December

2014 Newsletters

– Tax Commission Must Put a Stop to Nuisance Personal Property Audits
– My Corner: Ballot Language to Blame for Amendment A Failure
– December Truth in Taxation Hearings Line-Up
– Mike Edmonds Named Chair of the Utah Taxpayers Association
– Utah’s Tax Climate Ranked 9th Best Nationally
– $585 Million Income Tax Hike on the Horizon?
– Alpine School Board Members Choose Corporate Welfare over Funding Kids Education
– Upcoming 2015 Association Events
– Association Accomplishments During November
– User Fees the Solution to Utah’s Transportation Needs
– My Corner: Taxpayer Subsidized Mega Hotel Nets Only One Bid
– Utah’s Wireless Taxes Top Neighboring States and Rank 12th Highest in the Nation
– December Truth in Taxation Hearings
– Will Businesses Be Paying Taxes on Income They Haven’t Yet Received?
– Association Activities During October
– Taxpayers Association Welcomes New Vice President
– My Corner: Orem’s CDA Would Take $44 Million from Alpine School District
– Guest Commentary (Paul Clayson): Municipal Tax Distribution System Creates the Wrong Incentives
– Taxpayers Association Endorses Pleasant Grove General Obligation Bond for Public Safety Building
– Guest Commentary (Gordon Jones): ZAP Robs the Poor to Feed the Rich
– Guest Commentary (Senator Mike Lee): Tax Reform for the American Dream

September 2014 Newsletter 

– Tax-Related November Ballot Questions
– My Corner: Royce Van Tassell Leaving Taxpayers Association
– Truth in Taxation Wins and Losses
– Letter Protests West Point City’s Annual Tax Hikes
– Uncertain Future for $1.8 Billion uNOpia Tax
– Taxpayers Association Working to Resolve “New Growth” and Centrally Assessed Appeals
– New State Auditor Report: Utah Legislature needs to better define “new growth”
– My Corner: It’s Time for Utah to End K-12 Teacher Tenure
– Truth in Taxation: The 5 Worst Proposed Property Tax Hikes of 2014
– Vote YES on Amendment A
– Guest Commentary: Corporate Inversions: A Symptom of Our Broken Tax Code
– New Report from The Center for American Progress: “Return on Educational Investment: 2014”
-“uNOpia” Campaign Update
-My Corner: American Exceptionalism
-25 Property Tax Hikes Proposed Across the State
-Association Hires New Research Analyst
-3rd Party Economic Report: UTOPIA Deal BAD for Taxpayers
-My Corner: It’s Time to Say uNOpia to UTOPIA
-36th Annual Utah Taxes Now Conference a Success
-Guest Commentary:Preventing Assessment Areas From Being an End Run Around TnT
-Guest Commentary: Utah’s Broadband Non-Adopters

May 2014 Newsletter

-Macquarie deal could push cost of UTOPIA network past $2 billion
-My Corner: Raising state income tax fails to bring promised results
-Utah Taxpayers Legal Foundation fights unfair sales tax
-Mia Love and Doug Owens on stage together: 2014 Utah Taxes Now Conference Preview

April 2014 Newsletter

-SLC Golf System Headed for Financial “Death Spiral”?
-My Corner: Utah’s Election Nominating Processes Best in Nation: We should keep them
-Taxpayers Association Releases 2014 Legislative Scorecard
-Utah Tax Freedom Day is April 17th; Utah Ranks 28th on Annual State
-Local Tax Burden Report -2014 Legislative Session was a Success for Utah Taxpayers

March 2014 Newsletter

-Legislature Eyes $100 Million Property Tax Hike: House Likely to Say No
-With One Week Left in Legislative Session: Tax Bills Move Through Legislature
-My Corner: Update on Potential Macquarie Capital & Utopia Deal
-Prospects to Defeat Tax-Subsidized Convention Center Hotel Look Grim
-2014 Legislative Watch List Priorities

February 2014 Newsletter

-The USTAR Audit: A Follow Up
– My Corner: What will the 2014 Legislature do with transportation funding
-UTOPIA and Macquarie: The latest attempt at protecting UTOPIA taxpayers?
– Obamacare’s Insurer Tax’s Impact on Utah
– 2014 Legislative Watchlist

January 2014 Newsletter

– New Study Gives More Reasons to Oppose Tax Subsidies for a Convention Center Hotel
– My Corner: Victory for Taxpayers
– Macquarie Capital Offers to Turn UTOPIA Around
– Emergency Department Visits Increase as Medicaid Expands
– Utah Ranks in the Top Ten in the 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index
– 2014 Legislative Watchlist
– Half of All Taxpayers Pay Nearly All Federal Income Taxes

2013 Newsletters

– USTAR Audit: What Happens When Politics Get in the Way
– My Corner: An Innovative Alternative to School Bonds
– Will School Boards Take Instruction from Voters?
– Previewing the 2014 Legislative Session
– Recap of 2013 Bond Proposals
– Taxpayers Association Annual Membership Meeting: Board of Directors, Officers Named
– Change Needed to Empower Taxpayers Voice in County Property Taxes
– My Corner: What’s Right with Utah Public Education
– Tens of Thousands of Utah Students are Becoming Truly Bilingual
– Ending Hidden Property Tax Hikes: Strengthening Utah’s Truth in Taxation Protections
– Notice of Utah Taxpayers Association’s Annual Meeting
– The Tale of Two Districts: Association Endorses WSD bond and Opposes JSD bond
– Utah Counties and Cities Ask for an Additional 3% Local Option Gas Fee
– Association Urges No Votes on Jordan and Cache bonds, Remains Neutral on Logan Bond
– My Corner: Utah’s Growing Dependency Ratio Predicts Difficult Education Budgets Ahead
– 2013 How Utah Compares Report Preview
– Notice of Utah Taxpayers Association’s Annual Meeting
– Despite Urging from Taxpayers Association, Jordan School District Maintains Status Quo
– Utah Has the Highest Average Child Tax Credit Refund in US
– Orem’s Arts and Recreation Tax on the Ballot Again
– Fulfilling the Promise of Public Education: Utah Begins School Grading
-My Corner: Jordan School Board Must Reconsider its Status-quo Approach to Taxing for School Buildings
-Detroit: An Example of What Not to Do- by Former State Senator  Dan Liljenquist
-IRS Ruling on Same Sex marriage Tax Filing Answers Some Questions, Creates Others
– Tax Questions on the November Ballot -Quick Summary of Truth in Taxation Hearings
– It’s Time to Expand the Manufacturing Sales Tax Exemption
– My Corner: Salt Lake county Mayor and Council Become Educators as County Tax Hike Kicks In
– Appealing the County’s Valuation of Your Property: How to get Comparable Sales Data
– Oregon’s VMT Program Now Open to the Public – 2013 Truth in Taxation Hearings
-Utah Can’t Rely on Federal Medicaid Promises
-My Corner: Charter School Competition Improves District Schools, but School Boards Build Lavish Buildings while Charters Economize
-Funding Source is Key for Utah’s Growing Transportation System
-Update on Bonds Considered in June
-Roughly One Third of Utah’s Expenditures Come from the Federal Government
– Utah takes Top Spot for Economic Competitiveness in the new Rich States, Poor States Report
– My Corner: Federal Government Abuses – When is Enough Enough?
– Guest Commentary: Michael Clara Wants to Explore All of the Options Before Raising Taxes
– Which Local Governments are Raising Taxes?
– 2013 Budgets, Taxes, Hearing Dates – Cities and School Districts
– 35th Annual Utah Taxes Now Conference a Success
– Audit: Utah Retirements Systems Exaggerates Rate of Return
– My Corner: Tax Myths Debunked
– Should Utah Expand Medicaid Coverage?
– Tackling Transportation Funding by Cutting Utah’s Income Tax
– Market Place Fairness by Senator Wayne Harper – iProvo: A Requiem
– Tentative Utah Taxes Now Agenda
– Legislature Rejects Taxpayer Subsidies for a Convention Center Hotel
– Taxpayers Association Releases 2013 Legislative Scorecard
– My Corner: Utah Receives the Only “A” Grade on Digital Learning Now Report Card
– Taxpayers Association Successful in 2013 Legislative Session
– The STEM Action Center: Getting the Private Sector Involved in Their Future Workforce
– Utah Tax Freedom Day 2013: April 13
– Will Taxpayers Get Their Overpaid Property Taxes Back?
– My Corner: Another Education Group, Same Result?
– A Fiscal Discipline Reminder by Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union
– Non-Teaching Staff Growth Dwarfs Student Growth in Utah
– Taxpayers Association Priority Bills
February 2013 Newsletter
– Be Honest About Charter School Funding
– My Corner: The Limits on UTOPIA’s Next Steps
– Taxpayers Association Part of Solution to Streamline Sales Tax Refund Procedure
– Utah Not Alone in Transportation Funding Struggles
– Taxpayers Association Priority Bills
January 2013 Newsletter
– Association’s 2013 Legislative Agenda
– My Corner: Blended Learning 2.0 Paying Teachers as Other Professionals
– Empowering Students as Self-Directed Learners
– UPDATE: Court Rules Against Taxpayers in Restaurant Tax Case
– Profiling Legislative Chairs: Senators Reid and Henderson
– Guest Commentary by Paul Avelar: In Choosing Your Occupation, Let Freedom Ring
– Upcoming Taxpayers Association Events
2012 Newsletters
December – Taxpayers Association Opposes Salt Lake County’s Proposed Property Tax Hike – My Corner: The Real Snake Oil Salesmen – Time to Take the Next Step in the Public Lands Battle by Senator-elect Deidre Henderson – What Does the Fiscal Cliff Mean for Utah Taxpayers? – Is Your County Government Raising Taxes? – Jim Hewlett Named Chair of Utah Taxpayers Association Board of Directors
November – Vote Against $47 Million Tax Hike – My Corner: Clipping the Power of State Teachers Unions – Guest Commentary: Vote for Amendment A by Rep. Jim Nielson and Jake Anderegg – Update on Taxpayer Association’s Restaurant Tax Lawsuit – Taxpayers Association Releases “How Utah Compares” Report – Public Education Employment Has Skyrocketed While Test Scores Remain Stagnant – Taxpayers Association Part of Working Group to Implement SB 27 – Dramatic Changes in San Juan County Leave Many Questions
October – Vote FOR Amendment A: An Amendment to Require Severance Taxes to be Deposited in the Permanent State Trust Fund – My Corner: Public Education Inflates Student Performance, Fails to Report 29 Areas of Transparency – Vote Against Salt Lake County’s $47 Million Prop 1 – Voters Push Tax Referenda in Highland, Orem and Summit County – Notice of Utah Taxpayers Association’s Annual Meeting – Reducing the Cost of Business by Removing Tangible Personal Property Taxes
September- Federal Court Upholds South Carolina’s Utah-inspired Constitutional Amendment – Utah Works to Minimize Effects of the Affordable Care Act by Rep. Jim Dunnigan – My Corner: Dragging Public Education Into the 21st Century, Kicking and Screaming – UTOPIA’s “new” Management Team Has Not Changed Poor Performance – States Hold Over $4 Trillion in Debt – Taxpayers Largely Ignored at 2012 Truth In Taxation Hearings – Five Tax Questions on the November Ballot – Utah Per Pupil Spending Increases in 2013, While Most States Cut
August – UTOPIA Audit Reveals Many Problems – My Corner: How to Stop the Medicaid Expansion Tax – Utah’s Authority to Collect Sales Tax on E-commerce by Rep. Wayne Harper – What is Utah’s Transportation Funding Prescription? – New Report Claims Pension Reform is Not Enough – 2012 Truth In Taxation Hearings
July
 – Is Congress’ Taxing Power Now Unlimited? What You Need to Know About the Courts’ Decision on Obamacare – My Corner: Salt Lake County Takes Next Step Towards Publicly Funded Convention Center Hotel – Weber School District Illegally Spends Taxpayer Money to Promote Bond – Voters Reject 1 Bond, Approve 2 Others – Utah Has Mixed Results in New School Funding Report – The Trend Continues: Cigarette Tax Increase Drives Users to Neighboring States
June
 – Finding Solutions to Transportation Woes – My Corner: Dynamic v. Static Fiscal Notes: Is There More to be Gained? – 34th Utah Taxes Now Conference a Success – Which Local Governments are Raising Taxes? -2012 Budget Hearings
 May – Closing a Loophole in Utah Sales Tax Law: Why the CO and IL Decisions Don’t Apply to HB 384 – My Corner: Finding Consensus to Fix the Restaurant Tax – 34th Utah Taxes Now Conference Agenda – A Penalty or a Tax? An Explanation of Obamacare by Deputy Attorney General John Swallow – Growth in Municipal Broadband Struggles to Reach Users – Taxpayers Foundation Event with John Stossel a Success – Register for the Teed Off on Taxes Golf Tournament
April – Utah Tax Freedom Day 2012: April 17 – My Corner: The Complexities of Financing Public Education, or Why Parental Choice is SO Important – New Report Highlights Problems with Muni-telecom – Alternative Energy Development Tax Incentive – Taxpayers Association Releases School Spending Report – Taxpayers Association Releases Legislative Report Card – Successful 2012 Session
March – Setting the Record Straight: Super PAC’s ads inaccurately describe record of 2-time “Taxpayer Advocate of the Year” Dan Liljenquist – My Corner: Obama Administration’s Push for More Taxes and Regulation Adding to Energy Woes – SB 27: Standing Up for Taxpayers Rights – Tax Foundation Report Show’s Utah Above Average – Taxpayers Association Priority Bills
February – Legislative Auditor is Critical of UTA – My Corner: The Politics of Sound Tax Policy – Tax Foundation Report Shows Where Utah Needs to Improve Its Tax Policy – Federal and State Courts Reject County Auditors Lawsuit: Will the Legislature Fix the Problem? – Taxpayers Association Priority Bills
January– How Addicted is Utah to “Federal Crack”? – Putting Children First in Education Reform – The Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy – Should Utah Run its Own Health Insurance Company? – Despite Expanded Network, UTOPIA Loses Customers
2011 Newsletters
December – Eliminate the Property Tax Subsidy for Water – My Corner: The Mayor Should be Salt Lake County’s Budget Officer – The Economic Impact of a Wilderness Designation – New Natural Gas Leases Net Utah $25 Million – Put Severance Taxes Where They Belong — In Permanent State Trust Fund – Upcoming Taxpayers Association Events
November – Taxpayers Association Opposes $21 Million Springville Rec Center Bond – My Corner: Creating an Environment for Creating – Just Tricks, No Treats, in Government Budgeting by US Senator Mike Lee – Utah State Senator Dan Liljenquist named 2011 Public Official of the Year – Not Sweet, Just Sour: Candy and Soda Excise Taxes Don’t Work – Utah Shows Mixed Results in New State Deficit Report
October – Keeping the Change: Utah Supreme Court Says NO to Tax Refund on Erroneously Paid Taxes – My Corner: Oliver Porter’s Sandy Springs Model, City of 90,000 Operates With 5 Employees – November Bond Elections: Oppose Springville, Neutral on Alpine School District – Provo Increases Utility Rates to Pay for iProvo Bonds – Legislative Auditor General Recommends Privatization of State Golf Courses – Provo City Should End Its Trash Hauling Monopoly – Taxpayers Association Opposes Holladay Hotel and Restaurant Subsidy
September – 2011 Truth In Taxation Hearings- Cities and School Districts Witness Overwhelming Opposition to Tax Increases -My Corner – Government Employee Union Power Challenged in Utah and Nation – Federalism As The Way Forward by Congressman Rob Bishop – North Ogden Picks “Taj Mahal” Proposal and Higher Interest Rates – Salt Lake County Can’t Fill Taxpayer Funded Hotel, But Pushes Forward With Project Anyway – South Salt Lake Modifies Bond Proposal to Heed Taxpayer Association Recommendations – Taxpayers Association Releases Latest School Spending Report – VIEW THE FULL REPORT HERE
August – The Least Bad Way Forward: iProvo and UTOPIA – My Corner: A Choice For Failing Public Schools – The Employee Rights Act- Protecting Democracy – Is Your Local Government Raising Taxes? Truth In Taxation Hearing Dates and Times – South Salt Lake Civic Center Bond: 30 Years Is Too Long For Taxpayers – US Debt Ceiling Debate: What the Experts Are Saying
July – Canyons, Ogden School Boards Making Fundamental Changes to Union Contracts – My Corner: More Money Does Not Equal Greater Achievement in Education – Guest Commentary by Congressman Jason Chaffetz: Reining in the National Labor Relations Board – Is Your Local Government Raising Taxes? 2011 Truth In Taxation Hearing Dates and Times – Sandy Saves Taxpayer Dollars With 5% Cut In Starting Salary of New Employees – Salt Lake County Council Tables $110 Million Parks and Recreation Bond – Enacting the “10 Golden Rules of Effective Taxation” – Millard School District $38 Million Bond Fails- Voter Turnout Half of November Elections
June – Successful 33rd Annual “Utah Taxes Now Conference” – My Corner: The Fight of Our Generation – 2011 Budgets, Taxes, Hearing Dates – Cities and School Districts – West Valley City Taxpayer Funded Hotel – Taxpayers Association Releases Cost of Local Government Report – Taxpayers Association Opposes Millard School District Bond – Teed Off On Taxes Golf Tournament – REGISTER TODAY!
May – UTOPIA’s Annual Budget Mocks the Uniform Fiscal Procedures Act – My Corner: Education Is A Taxpayer Issue – 2011 “Utah Taxes Now” Tentative Conference Agenda – Millard School District Falls Into June Bond Election Trap- Bond Elections Should Be in November – Budget Hearings Scheduled for May-June – Obama Administration Threatening Right to Vote by Secret Ballot – Legislative Interim Session: Privatization Priorities – US Senator Mike Lee to Headline “Utah Taxes Now” Conference
April – Utah Tax Freedom Day 2011: April 11th – My Corner: Bringing Utah Education Into the 21st Century – Reverse the Geneva RDA – Larry Newton: Giving Awa $1 Billion in Property Taxes – Taxpayers Association Releases 2011 Legislative Scorecard – Taxpayers Association Successful in 2011 Legislative Session – Can You Hear Me Now? Utah 12th Highest Taxes On Cell Phones – Taxpayers Association Hires New Executive Assistant
March – Final Days of Utah’s Legislative Session – My Corner: Restoring The Sales Tax On Food – The Fighter Engine Made of Pork: Wasteful Government Spending – Energizing Federal Energy Policy
February – Utah’s 59th Legislative Session Begins – My Corner: Finding Consensus To Fix The Restaurant Tax – Stop Paying Union Reps With School Tax Dollars – Privatize Prisons: Same Service, Lower Cost
January – The Tyranny Of The Status Quo – Balancing Utah’s Budget: Vocabulary 101 – Stopping The Tax Hikes To Stop The Spending – Senator Dan Liljenquist: Medicaid Reform – Taxpayers Association Proposal: $100 Million In Budget Cuts – Police Fee and Restaurant Tax: Still Top Priorities – Senator Steve Urquhart: Mission Based Funding
2010 Newsletters
December 2010 Newsletter – Medicaid Reform: Now or Never – My Corner: Lame Duck Session- Extend Bush Tax Cuts – Property Taxes Are Utah’s Most Taxpayer Friendly Tax – Eliminate Salt Lake County’s Unified Police Fee – The Restaurant Tax: The Story The Standard Examiner Failed – Grading Public Schools: Developing Actual Accountability – John Ward Named Chair of Board of Directors
November 2010 Newsletter – UTOPIA Cities Approve More Bonding; Taxpayer Questions Go Unanswered – My Corner: The Accountability of the Profit Motive – 2010 Election Results: Voters Approve Constitution Amendment A – Kearns Finds Recreation Solution Without Tax Hike – Taxpayers Association Files Suit Over Restaurant Tax – Forbes Magazine Named Utah “Best Business and Career Climate”
October 2010 Newsletter – Teed Off On Taxpayer Subsidized Golf Courses – My Corner: Who Should Appoint Jordan School District’s New Superintendent – Save Our Secret Ballot: Vote FOR Constitution Amendment A – Association Opposes Eagle Mountain and Provo Bonds, Remains Neutral on Kaysville and West Valley – Taxpayer Association Candidate Endorsements
September 2010 Newsletter – Association Tobacco Tax Predictions Coming True – My Corner: Recreating Florida’s Miracle in Utah – Save Our Secret Ballot: Protect Your Right To A Secret Ballot – Can Privatization Help Utah Balance The Budget? – Corroon Proposes Sales Tax Increase – Truth In Taxation Hearings: Government Pushing Their Pain on Taxpayers
August 2010 Newsletter – Federal Financial Reform Not The Answer – My Corner: Counties Should Not Try To Be Cities – SLC To Add Property Tax Hike On Top Of Already Higher Taxes – Sandy City to Use Bond Expiration to Permanently Raise Taxes – Is Your Local Government Raising Taxes? – Should Taxpayers Support $300 Million Geneva RDA? Yes to $150 Million – UTOPIA Should Follow iProvo: Sell To Highest Bidder
July 2010 Newsletter – No Revenues and No Transparency – My Corner: The Price of Liberty – Mayor Corroon Releases Economic Plan – June 2010 Bond Election Results: Kearns Rec Center Bond Fails – STOP UTOPIA Rally: Orem on July 13th – Union Organizer Training: Thanks, But No Thanks – Wellington City Facing 25% Budget Shortfall
June 2010 Newsletter – 2010 Taxes Now Conference: Economic Strength Through Federalism – My Corner: The Answer To Failing Schools – Questions and Answers: How To Evaluate a Bond Proposal – Governor Herbert Speaks at 2010 Utah Taxes Now Conference – Niederhauser, Liljenquist, Harrington Receive Taxpayer Awards – Congressman Bishop: States and Locals Can Do Better Than Feds – UTOPIA: We Just Need $60 Million More
May 2010 Newsletter – Happy Birthday UTOPIA – My Corner: Avoiding California’s Tax and Spending Mistakes – The 3rd Semester Program: How To Increase Teacher Pay by 50% with No Tax Increase – June vs. November Bond Elections: Double Voter Turnout in November – Utah Ranks First in Economic Outlook Index – Public Education: Paying Teachers for Success
April 2010 Newsletter – April 11th- Tax Freedom Day – My Corner: Restoring the Constitutional Restraints on Federal Power – Association Successful in 2010 Legislative Session – Is Salt Lake County Police Fee Legal? – Balancing the Jordan School District Budget Without Another Tax Increase – Taxpayers Association Releases 2010 Legislative Scorecard
March 2010 Newsletter – Utah’s 58th Legislative Session Enters Final Days – Taxpayers Association Legislative Watchlist – My Corner: The Folly of Elected Officials Wading Into the Market – Tobacco Tax Increase Is Wrong For Utah – Emergency Operations Center: Co-Location is Best Option – Walking the Walk: Congressional Fiscal Responsibility
February 2010 Newsletter – Utah’s 58th Legislative Session Begins – My Corner: Cut Spending to Balance Budget – Arizona Supreme Court Strikes Down RDA Corporate Welfare – Uintah Basic Medical Center: Unfair Private vs. Public Competition – Public Union Membership Outpaces Private Membership – Utah Supreme Court Adopts Rule Preventing Dual Appeals from Tax Commission Decisions – Flatter Tax Equals Tax Breaks for 97% of Utahns
January 2010 Newsletter – Property Tax Report Released – My Corner: UTOPIA Cities Ought to Cut Their Losses – Utah Business Climate: 10th Best in the Nation – Don’t Eliminate Utah’s Vendor Discount – A Tax By Any Other Name: SL County Public Safety Fee – Canyons School Board Should Reject Subsides for VF Factory Outlet Mall – Severance Tax On Coal: Bad Idea
2009 Newsletters
December 2009 Newsletter – Restaurant Tax: Broaden the Base, Lower the Rate – My Corner: No Time for New Taxes – UTOPIA “Lien-ing” On Brigham City Taxpayers – National Education Union: Largest Political Spender in Nation – Low Tax States Fairing Better In Economic Downturn – Jack Towsley Named Chair of Taxpayers Association Board of Directors – Taxpayers Association Reviews County Budgets
November 2009 Newsletter – Democratic Party Proposes Massive Tax on Utah Manufacturers – My Corner: Time for Sales Tax on Food – Problems with Municipal Inter-Fund Transfers – Draper Seeks Funds from Canyons School District for VF Factory Outlet – Governor Appoints New State Tax Commissioner – Healthcare Proposal to Cost Taxpayers $725 Billion – Jack A. Olson, Former Association President Passes
October 2009 Newsletter – Utah State and Local Tax and Fee Burdens Still High in 2007 – My Corner: Education Reform Collaboration – Hogle Zoo Bond: SL County Council Sells Taxpayers Out – SL County Council Chairman Attacks Taxpayers Association – Taxpayers Association Endorses Three Bond Proposals – Forbes Magazine: Utah Ranked 3rd Best State for Business
September 2009 Newsletter – Reduced Congestion Spells Tremendous Savings, Increased Economic Growth – My Corner: Gary Herbert Has What It Takes – Washington Watch: Congressman Jason Chaffetz – Utah Doesn’t Need Publicly Funded Hotels
August 2009 Newsletter – The Huntsman Record: 2005-2009 – My Corner: Money Matters in Public Education – Tax Notices in the Canyons and Jordan School Districts – Utah Doesn’t Need Publicly Funded Hotels
July 2009 Newsletter – Federal, State and Local Taxes on a Median Income Utah Family – My Corner: Iranian Style Elections in Utah? – Highlights from the Taxes Now Conference – The Cost Taxpayers Pay Because of UTOPIA – RDAs: Corporate Welfare Disguised as “Economic Development”
June 2009 Newsletter – Utah Retirement Systems Take a Hit – My Corner: Do Americans Understand Basic Economics? – Transparency Website Online – UTOPIA To Call On Member Cities’ Sales Tax Pledges – Wimmer, Hendrickson Receive Taxpayer Awards
May 2009 Newsletter – Are Charter Schools Overfunded vs. District Schools? – My Corner: It’s Tie for Locals to Control School Budgets – Taxpayers Association Legislative Scorecard Available Online – US 12th Grade NAEP Scores Flat Since Early 1970s Despite Increased Spending
April 2009 Newsletter – New Reports: Utah’s Business Climate Solid, But Still Has Nation’s 13th Highest Tax Burden – My Corner: Socialist Nation, Socialist State – Obama’s Budget Spends Too Much, Borrows Too Much, Taxes Too Much – 2009 Legislature Treats Taxpayers Well
March 2009 Newsletter – Supreme Court Upholds Paycheck Protection – My Corner: Stopping the Tax and Spend Lobby – Where Do Utah Public Schools Get Their Money? – Utah Legislature to Congress: No Card Check
February 2009 Newsletter – Do Businesses Get All The Tax Breaks? – My Corner: Budget, Taxes and the Recession – Utah K-12 Spending Per Student Surpasses $8000 in FY2008
January 2009 Newsletter – After Years of Record Growth, Huntsman Proposes Budget Cuts – My Corner: Federal Stimulus Package- The Other White Meat? – School Districts Must Be Financially Transparent – Proposal Protects Votes of Conscience from Bribery and Intimidation – Taxpayers Association Helps Resolve Tax Commission Lien Filing Problems – 2009 Board of Directors Elected – Taxpayers Association Pre-Legislative Conference- January 13
2008 Newsletters
2007 Newsletters

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Utah Can’t Rely on Federal Medicaid Promises

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Utah Can’t Rely on Federal Medicaid Promises


As the May 2013 edition of “The Utah Taxpayer” noted, the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling gave Utah the choice of whether to expand eligibility for Medicaid to include all Utahns who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level. As an inducement to expand Medicaid, Obamacare offers what is effectively an introductory price.

From 2014 to 2016, the federal government will cover 100% of the Medicaid costs associated with the newly eligible Medicaid population. Beginning in 2017, the federal government will reduce its support of this population, but promises to always cover at least 90% of this population’s Medicaid costs.

Unfortunately, the federal treasury isn’t capable of keeping those promises. The trajectory of federal entitlement spending is unsustainable. Given the federal government’s inability to meet its existing obligations, it is hard to see how Utah can rely on Obamacare’s promise to pay its share of expanding Medicaid.

The Trajectory of Federal Entitlement Spending
Last year Nicholas Eberstadt published a short book entitled “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic,” on the long term spending patterns of the federal government. His chilling graphics show the astounding growth in federal welfare spending over the last 50 years. Specifically, he shows that, “in 1960, U.S. government transfers to individuals from all programs totaled about $24 billion. By 2010, the outlay for entitlements was almost 100 times more” (page 4). “Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, entitlement transfers to individuals have more than septupled” over that time period (Eberstadt, page 8).

Shocking as those statistics are, a response by economist Yuval Levin published in the same book focuses attention on the driver of this phenomenal growth. In 1971, “all non-health care federal spending combined (including Social Security, defense, all other benefit programs, everything but interest on the debt) was 17.1 percent of GDP” (Eberstadt, page 122). The same was true in 2011. However, federal health spending as a share of GDP “more than quintupled over that period.”

Table 1: CBO Projections of Federal Spending as a Share of GDP

2012

2022

2037

Federal Healthcare

5.4%

7.2%

9.6%

Social Security

5.0%

5.4%

6.2%

Other, non-interest spending

11.6%

7.3%

6.9%

Source: Congressional Budget Office, “The 2012 Long-Term Budget Outlook,” Table 1-2, page 12.

As Table 1 shows, current spending trends reflect similar patterns. Federal healthcare spending (Medicaid, Medicare, and various subsidies associated with Obamacare) will nearly double as a share of GDP by 2037. Social Security will continue to grow, while all other non-interest federal spending will decrease by nearly 41 percent over the same time period. As Levin puts it, “On the course we are on, … the federal government will become a health-insurance provider with some unusual side ventures, like an army and a navy” (Eberstadt, page 122).

How much will Medicaid expansion really cost at full implementation?
These long-term federal trends matter because they of what they portend for Utah’s decision over whether to expand eligibility for Medicaid. Utah’s Health Department commissioned a study to show taxpayer costs or savings associated with expanding Medicaid or not.  Conducted by PCG, a national public policy consulting group, the study evaluates five scenarios

  1. Make only those expansions required by Obamacare.
  2. Expand Medicaid to all Utahns earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) with traditional Medicaid benefits.
  3. Expand Medicaid to all Utahns earning up to 138% of FPL with essential health benefits.
  4. Expand Medicaid to all Utahns earning up to 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) with traditional Medicaid benefits.
  5. Expand Medicaid to all Utahns earning up to 100% of FPL with essential health benefits.

Table 2 shows how PCG projects Utah’s Medicaid costs to change between 2014 and 2023 for each of those scenarios. During the first 3 years of implementation, when the federal government has promised to pay the full cost of expanding Medicaid, Utah would save about $28.4 million by expanding Medicaid to cover all Utahns up to 138% of FPL. During the same time period, any other choice would cost the state between $39.1
million and $88.3 million. (See the column labeled “3 year total” in Table 2.)
After that initial 3-year period, the federal government has promised to step down their coverage of the newly eligible Medicaid recipients to 90% by the year 2020. Utah taxpayers would have to cover 10% of the cost of newly eligible Medicaid recipients.

    To reflect these separate promises, PCG also calculated the total costs over a 10-year period (see column B). Once the Medicaid expansion is fully implemented and the federal government is paying for their 90% share on going, the cost of not expanding Medicaid becomes the least expensive 10-year option.

PCG also provides the annual costs associated with these 10-year and 3-year options, which are represented in Table 2 by columns C and D. However, the 10-year annual does NOT accurately reflect the average annual costs Utah will face in 2023, because the costs and savings in years one through three (when the federal government is paying 100% of the cost of newly eligible Medicaid recipients) are fundamentally different than the costs and savings in the last years, when the federal government is only covering 90% of those costs. Table 3 attempts to approximate those differences.

    In Table 3, Columns A and B replicate Columns C and D from Table 2. Column C is the difference between Columns A and B from Table 2. Finally, Column D divides Column C by 7, the number of years within PCG’s 10-year analysis that the federal government promises to cover 90% of the cost of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees. 
Column D is a more realistic approximation of Utah’s actual annual Medicaid costs beginning in 2023. The 3-year savings Scenarios 2 and 3 generate are fully consumed in the following 7 years. In other words, the total and annual losses in those last 7 years are much larger than the overall and annual 10-year losses. The annual costs calculated by recognizing the full costs over the last 7 years (Column D) are a more accurate reflection of Utah’s Medicaid costs beginning in 2023. To be clear, the federal promise to cover 90% of the costs for newly eligible Medicaid enrollees is permanent. PCG’s estimates merely reflect the 10 years they evaluated.

For example, PCG projects that the 10-year annual loss for Medicaid will range from $22.1 million to $58.1 million (Column A). However, as Column D notes, the state’s annual costs in 2023 will be likely vary between $25.9 million and $70.4 million. For every Scenario PCG modeled, Utah’s likely annual Medicaid costs will be significantly higher than the 10-year estimates PCG presented.

In determining whether Utah should expand Medicaid, this analysis is critical, because the state balances its budget every year. Any savings the state may have from a full Medicaid expansion in 2014, 2015 or 2016 is irrelevant to the state’s budget in 2023. Policymakers need to appreciate Medicaid’s realistic long-term annual budget costs associated with expansion. Unfortunately, PCG’s 10-year annual estimate does not help them see that.

Are even these revised Medicaid costs realistic?
As the analysis in PCG’s report and in the previous section notes, Obamacare will significantly increase Utah’s annual Medicaid costs at full implementation, even if Utah does not expand Medicaid more than federal law requires. However, even this analysis relies on unrealistic assumptions.

As the Eberstadt analysis presented in the first section of this this article shows, the current fiscal parameters of federal entitlement spending are not sustainable. And the ability of the federal government to keep its promises of paying 100% of the newly-eligible population’s Medicaid costs for the first three years, and 90% at full implementation, hinge on the federal government being able to sustain that level of spending.

That is an absurd assumption, if only because we will be in other wars, which will prevent the federal government from cutting non-healthcare spending. We may wish it isn’t true, but the history of American foreign policy notes that American involvement in one war or another is nearly as regular as a heartbeat: Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Grenada, Iraq, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Budgeting with a realistic eye on taxpayer costs demands that policy makers assume the federal government won’t keep all their spending promises.

Unfortunately, that assumption has a solid foundation. Just this year federal budget cuts associated with sequestration lowered the PILT and mineral lease payments the federal government makes to rural counties throughout the country.

Even in healthcare, the federal government has failed this year to keep its promises. In 2010, the federal government promised to support Utah’s high-risk insurance pool, HIPUtah. HIPUtah provides otherwise uninsurable individuals (i.e., those with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses) who leave the group insurance market and want to purchase insurance in the individual market.

Without a larger healthy population in this market or taxpayer backing of an insurance pool for uninsurable patients, the costs of insuring these chronically sick patients would overwhelm the individual insurance market. The same sequestration cuts that lowered PILT and mineral lease payments also forced them to stop supporting new enrollees.

Given the foreseeable state of the federal treasury, it is unrealistic to expect that the federal government will follow through on its promises to cover 90% of the costs of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees once Medicaid expansion is fully implemented. Assuming that’s true, if Utah lawmakers expand Medicaid now, at some point they’ll have to either cut Medicaid benefits or raise taxes. Neither of those options are palatable.

 

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