In 2019, just before Christmas, the Utah legislature passed a 200 page sweeping tax reform bill that would have changed the very fabric of how we live in the state of Utah. It included, amongst other things, an increase in food tax, gas tax, and the introduction of some service taxes. The historic success of the tax referendum in January caused the legislature to repeal the tax reform bill the first week of the 2020 legislative session. The tax referendum saved Utahns from potentially years of tangled taxation. Reflecting on my leadership role in the referendum's success, I want to share a few additional reasons why I believe the tax referendum mattered.
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” John Adams
The People's Voice: Our government is designed with checks and balances in order to keep our representatives accountable to the will of the people. Most of the time, our vote is our voice for government action. In 2019, the citizens of the state of Utah rose up to share their voice with our representatives through the process of referendum. The changes that would have come due to the tax reform law required an immediate response from the people. The process of referendum allows the citizens to have a voice when they feel that their representatives have gotten something drastically wrong. It is not a way to enact laws but rather a "check" on governmental actions. The citizens of the state of Utah awoke to the actions of the government, they educated themselves about the tax bill, and they came to voice their opinion through volunteerism and signature. Citizen involvement made miracles happen.
Working Together: Hundreds of volunteers from across the state of Utah came together in a very short period of time to successfully surpass the nearly 116,000 required signature threshold with an estimated 152,000 signatures! Like a piano with many moving parts, the tax referendum volunteers worked together to create harmony in purpose. In only two days, a handful of leaders implemented a plan for signature gathering in Harmons grocery stores and some Associated Food Stores across the state of Utah. The night before the store openings the question arose, "how do we know if volunteers will show up?" My only response was, "if we build it, they will come" (credit to A Field of Dreams). And did they ever show up! Each day until the final day, more and more volunteers showed up to help. We had more volunteers than we knew what to do with them! They felt the energy, the drive, the desire, to contribute to the good of the state. Perhaps the most important feeling that I had during the entire process was, UTAHNS NEED TO KNOW THAT THEY CAN WORK TOGETHER.
3. Civility: The tax referendum was a grassroots non-partisan effort where citizens worked closely with others from a variety of belief systems. There were many reported incidents of people working for hours together for this cause, that previously had been political opponents. Great friendships were made as citizens came together for the unified good of the state. Conversely, the uncivilized tone at the broader national level has led to a new normal of name calling, lying, exaggeration, and manipulation. The Utah 2019 tax referendum created a tone of civility that with a ripple effect could change the tone of how we interact with each other at every level. Civility sets the stage for insight, introspection, and leadership. Civility was exemplified at every level of the referendum.
Tax referendum volunteers have taken their experience and transferred it to the current COVID 19 pandemic and earthquakes. They have organized quickly to help in their respective communities. WE are witnessing historic times with historic goodness. It has been my sincere pleasure knowing so many wonderful people in our great state!
Marci Green Campbell is running for Senate District 23 to be a voice for the people regarding efficient taxation and government spending cuts. Like Marci Green Campbell for Senate on Facebook to see more of Marci's ideas for Utah.