Referendum backers increase the signature count to force a public vote on tax bill

SALT LAKE CITY — Backers of a citizen referendum to force a public vote on the legislature’s tax overhaul bill have increased the signature count.

The Lt. Governor’s Office reported Monday that 1,647 signatures had been verified by county clerks. Organizers of the referendum said in a statement Monday they had collected 6,486 so far with more still being turned in.

Referendum supporters must collect just under 116,000 by January 21 to qualify for the November ballot.

The signatures are collected by volunteers fanning out across the state. They are then turned into Utah’s 29 county clerks who must validate them. Those verified numbers are then reported to the Lt. Governor’s Office.

The Utah State Legislature passed a bill that overhauled the tax code by cutting the income tax (which pays for education) but also hiked the sales tax on food, gasoline and imposed new taxes on some services. The move sparked a lot of pushback and spawned two referendum efforts. One that was rejected by the state is currently being fought over in federal court.

Referendum backers report raising about $29,000 to fund the signature collecting effort so far. The group has been staging events all over the state to collect signatures. Details can be found here.

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