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Governor says no new taxes, despite economic woes

SALT LAKE CITY (Deseret News) — Gov. Gary Herbert told attendees at a tax conference Tuesday that the state would protect its lofty management ranking by staying the course and staying away from new taxes, even as legislators forecast more dark days ahead that could necessitate an increase.

A Utah Taxpayers Association gathering at the Little America Hotel drew about 300 people, including a who's who of government fiscal experts to weigh in on what is and isn't working in the quest to keep the state, its businesses and residents solvent amid turbulent economic times. Several national organizations have called Utah the best fiscally managed state in the country.

"What we're doing seems to be working pretty well," Herbert said. "Moving ahead, our No. 1 focus is what we can do to grow the economy, what we can do to create jobs."

Herbert said the course of action for his first budget effort was one of collaboration and a commitment to downsizing government, while maintaining critical services such as education without further burdening taxpayers. While the state education budget remained essentially flat compared with the previous one, there was no new funding for an expected 10,000-plus additional schoolchildren. A tobacco tax hike did make it into the law books, albeit without the governor's signature. The key, Herbert said, is to resist yearly budget increases.

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