SALT LAKE CITY -- Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, has come under fire for attacking a bill that would give any deployed military personnel a break on their property taxes.
"Your bleeding heart wants me to pay for their property taxes," Jenkins said during debate Wedneday.
Senate Joint Resolution 8, sponsored by Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, was approved by the Senate, 24-4 with one absent. The resolution now goes before the House for further consideration.
If it passes, voters will decide this November if the state's Constitution will include an exemption so active military reservists or full-time military who are deployed, can be exempted from paying property taxes.
Robles said the tax exemption definitions are in Senate Bill 116, which were also passed by the Senate, 24-4, with one absent, on Wedensday. She is also the bill's sponsor.
According to that bill, any active military personnel whose primary residence is in Utah and is deployed to an area, such as Afghanistan or Iraq, for 200 days consecutively or 200 days within a calendar year, can apply to be exempted from paying property.
"Most those deployed serve at last six months," Robles said.
Robles said the nation's military has changed. Those who volunteer in the reserves end up doing several tours of duty. In Utah, the majority of those are the primary or sole income earners for their families.
Wars will continue, Robles said. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have lasted longer than most expected. Along with the joint resolution, SB 116 does not go into affect until voters decide on the issue in November. The bill includes thefiscal impact if active military members or reservists opted out of paying property tax.
According to the fiscal note, there are approximately 1,600 active military, full-time and reservists, members who would apply and receive an estimated $2.2 million property tax reduction. About 900,0000 property owners, who are not military members, would see tax increases of $1 per owner of a $250,000 home or $7.68 per $1 million business.
Jenkins said Utah already gives those in the military "all kinds of breaks." Tuition to attend the state's universities is one of the benefits those in the military reserves receive.
"Don't get me wrong, I support the veterans," said Jenkins, who served in the reserves for seven years.
"This is just one I don't agree with," Jenkins said.
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