With the completion of the 2015 legislative session, the Utah Manufacturers Association celebrates its 110th year as the voice of industry. We take our legislative role seriously and with our mission to advance manufacturing in mind wanted to provide you a brief look back at the 2015 Utah Legislative Session.
The National Association of Manufacturers commissioned a study on the Obama administration’s air quality regulatory framework, the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Ozone. Worst-case forecasts suggest it would reduce U.S. GDP by $140 billion per year and $1.7 trillion from 2017 to 2040, result in 1.4 million fewer jobs per year on average through 2040, and cost the average U.S. household $830 per year in the form of lost consumption. It’s possibly the most expensive regulation in history. Of course we favor reasonable standards to improve air quality but favor voluntary steps that avoid negative impacts to business and our economy.
As industry does their part and has come to the table to contribute to the clean air dialogue, the community is also encouraged to bare some of the burden. Data shows that 11% of all air pollutants come from point sources or large industrial contributors, 32% from area sources (including homes and buildings), and 57% from transportation both private and public.
Various bills were offered that provided a common sense, Utah-based solution, and those won the support, were those with industry input. Any changes to air quality regulations must rely on scientific data and require approval to include industry representation.
Funding and State of Industry
The Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee announced a total of $739 million in new revenues, up $100 million from previous projections. Utah’s healthy economy is generating the increase.
A recent report ranked Utah 20th in the nation with the highest gross state product (GSP), totaling nearly $22 billion, up $5 billion from 2013. The average manufacturing income is $67,215, $10,000 more than the median income statewide.
Manufacturing continues to be the largest industry in the state measured in GSP.
UMA again lobbied heavily for the elimination of multiple, overlapping taxes that burden business, including property tax, corporate income tax, personal income tax for employees, as well as tax on inputs and outputs – double taxation in our view. Eliminating tax on inputs is not only sound tax policy, but ensures that crucial dollars stay within each individual business to expand R&D and incent job creation.
Various bills have been successful in achieving the elimination of double taxation on a small scale and as we support these incremental steps, though our goal is to eliminate taxation on inputs industry-wide.
The Senate supported this legislation with overwhelming support with just days left in the session, but did not make it to the House floor in time for a vote. We feel very hopeful of passage in coming years.
There are few issues of overarching consensus. This is one of them. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, and conservatives all agreed that there is a need for increased transportation funding. The devil is in the details. A straightforward 10-cent per gallon increase at the pump was proposed but fell short of approval. In the end, a UMA-proposed hard ceiling at 40-cents per gallon, seasonally-adjusted with a three-year trailing average was adopted and passed into legislation. This law will go in affect on July 1st of this year.
In coming issues we’ll report more fully on legislative outcomes.