Discount Pawn to hold signing events at both locations for citizens opposed to tax reform legislation

Composite image. Background photo shows Utah State Capital, Salt Lake City, date not specified. Foreground image shows Discount Pawn, St. George, Utah, Dec. 31, 2019 | Inset photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Concerned citizens and businesses across the state have been combining forces to gather signatures for a referendum opposing the state’s recent tax reform bill, and Southern Utah retailer Discount Pawn has decided to join the fight.

Stock image, St. George News

Owner Derrik Staheli and his father, Delbert, have teamed up with Staheli’s cousin Joe Furse to raise awareness in Washington County about their concerns for the new tax plan, which passed during a special session of the Utah Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert.

Staheli has organized referendum signing events on Saturday and Monday from 3-6 p.m. at both their St. George and Enterprise locations. 

With less than 30 days remaining for activists to gather 116,000 signatures for the referendum to take it to the voters, Staheli told St. George News that while his business isn’t directly affected, he feels duty bound to do his part to spread the word.

He said they are fully invested in the effort and believe it is very important that everybody is educated about what the tax plan proposes. 

It’s just something I feel like I want to make the community aware of,” Staheli said. “It makes me upset.”

Proponents of the legislation say the bill lowers the income tax rate, creates new tax credits and rebates and redirects state funds toward road construction projects. However, opponents say it redirects money away from education; raises taxes on food, fuel and service-based companies; and makes the current tax system more difficult for taxpayers to navigate.

Staheli said that while he opposes the legislation, he isn’t necessarily opposed to taxes in general.

“I’m not the type of person that thinks that all tax is theft, like some people say. Taxes are necessary, but this particular tax bill is upsetting to me,” he said, adding that he thinks taxing the food is just a way to unfairly raise taxes tremendously on lower class and middle class citizens who haven’t been given a choice.

“That’s just a tax that they are always going to have to be paying no matter what.”

In the past couple of weeks, he said he has spoken with many people and discovered that the majority don’t know anything about the bill. Getting the word out has taken a lot of work, with signature training, hiring replacement help for the shops while they collect signatures and printing and distributing flyers with their own funds, but Staheli said if it helps people to better understand what’s happening, it will all be worth it.

Besides hosting the signing events, they have also partnered with Carter’s Grocery near his home in Enterprise to help out.

“They’re helping us send out flyers to 1,700 homes in the Pine Valley, Central and Enterprise area,” he said.

For Staheli’s cousin Joe Furse, who has followed the bill’s progress since it was first debated in the state Legislature’s 2019 general session at the beginning of the year, the biggest issue is how it was finally pushed through in December when people weren’t paying attention.

Repeal the 2019 Utah tax plan promotional poster, St. George News

“A big concern for me was just how it was done,” Furse said. “I feel like there is a need for more public debate to happen between now and November if we can get this on the ballot.”

Because the taxes will affect people in different ways, learning about how it impacts their own personal circumstances is vital, he said. For example, he lives in Central, 30 miles north of St. George, and commutes daily for work, and he thinks the new fuel tax is definitely going to impact him and his neighbors a lot more that people that live closer to the city.

“This isn’t a partisan thing,” he said, noting that the citizen referendum has the support of both political parties, conservatives and liberals. “I think that people just really need to take a good hard look at how this is going to impact their individual situation and their family and then decide whether it is something they would like to support or not. And they need the time to do that.”

In the coming weeks, there will be many signing events, and Staheli said he wants to give Southern Utahns as many opportunities as possible to make their voices heard.

“This referendum gives the people the chance to vote on it,” he said. “It’s not just a few legislators saying ‘We’re going to pass it.’ This will allow us to put it on the ballot in November 2020 so that the people can vote on it.” 

Discount Pawn is located at 790 S. Bluff St. in St. George and 134 E. Main St. in Enterprise.

Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY, St. George News.

Event details

  • What: Citizen referendum signing events at Discount Pawn.
  • When: Saturday, Jan. 4, and Monday, Jan. 6, from 3-6 p.m.
  • Where: Discount Pawn (both locations), 790 S. Bluff St., St. George, and 134 E. Main St., Enterprise.

• S P O N S O R E D  C O N T E N T •

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