Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Voucher Vote May Wait Untill February 2008 -- Are you kidding me!

(Hat Tip also The Third Avenue )

The governor and the legislature have apparently decided that a vote on vouchers (provided there are plenty of valid signatures) needs to wait until the 2008 presidential primary. So much for really wanting to have the voice of the people heard.

It seems that the Governor and the Legislature are either trying to bury this vote as long from now as possible to let the support garnered by Utahns for Public Schools cool, or (and I don't know if this logic really works) they are trying to keep this vote as far away from local lawmakers as possible.

Either way holding the vote out that long strikes me as a little shady, especially after the governor expressed his commitment to having a vote on the issue as soon as possible. Let the voucher bill stand on its merit, and let us have a spirited debate leading to this vote. It is disappointing to see the "Powers that Be" try to pull a win on this issue by pushing the vote as far away as possible in order to allow voter apathy to fester.

Bad Form Huntsman and Legislature.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Deadline for Taxes

Here I am at 1:30 AM, and I am no longer productive working so I thought I would throw out my last minute tip.......

1. File an extention -- This is something that many people are afraid of, but remarkably it can provide many benefits. Some positive benefits include -- more time to save money to make deductible traditional or SEP IRA contributions for 2006, sanity for your accountant, lower audit risk (although denied by the IRS) statistically extended returns have a slightly lower audit rate. The major con is a two edged sword -- extending lentghens the statute of limitations 6 months, providing the IRS more time to audit and you more time to amend returns an collect refunds. Although the extra 6 months to the IRS examination department is daunting, the extra time to claim refunds on amended returns can be invaluable in some cases.

2. Pay the State of Utah on time -- If you owe tax on your return, payment on the deadline is important. Remember an extention only extends the time to file, not pay! However, if you owe both the Federal government and the State of Utah and cannot afford to pay both -- pay Utah in full on time. Utah's penalty for not paying on time is 10% or 40 bones, if you owe less than 400 dollars or less you could have as much as a 40% penalty for $100 tax or a 400% penalty for $1 tax for not paying on time! Ouch! The IRS is much kinder and gentler on this issue, the Federal penalty for not paying on time on extention is .5% a month up to 5% of the tax owed. Both carry a 8% interest factor. Moral is pay Utah on time or suffer the consequence.

I'll be signing off untill the 18th.

Happy Filing.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Vouchers -- It Appears That There will be a Vote.

Utah Amicus, and Salt Lake Tribune are reporting that there are enough signatures to have a referendum vote on HB148.

Looks like vouchers will continue as a main topic here at Green Jello.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

"Wayne Holland & Utah Amicus call Parents for Choice CHICKEN!" --- A Response From the Utah Amicus

Rob posted this in response to my previous post:

"The word "Chicken" was not actually used but it will do for now.

Republican leadership strong-armed HB 148 through the House. Please remember that it only passed by one vote.

When Democratic Senators tried to amend the bill their concerns and amendments were ignored. Why? Because Republican leadership understood that HB 148 might fail in the House on the second go-round, a chance they were not willing to take.

If vouchers go to a vote, and if vouchers pass I will be the first one to move on. However, if organizations and associations like the PTA, the UEA, and Utahns for Public Schools are not able to bring in the required signatures needed to move forward with the referendum, then we have a different problem and situation.

Section 1. [Power vested in senate, House, People.]

(1) The legislative power of the State shall be vested in:

(a) A Senate and House of Representatives which shall be designated the Legislature of the State of Utah; and
(b) the people of the State of Utah as provided in Subsection (2).

(To see a complete ARTICLE VI check out The Utah Amicus)

If the guidelines for gathering signatures for the referendum petition are unobtainable then the citizens of Utah must realize that the Utah State Legislature is jealous of their power, and that the legislature has put into law a statute that takes away the equal vested power that the people of Utah are constitutionally guaranteed.

It is my hope that this is not the case. And, as I stated above, if the good people of Utah are allowed the opportunity to vote on this matter, and if the people vote to sustain vouchers then I will be the first person to say, "the people have spoken."

Now let's talk about how the people voted this last election cycle on vouchers.

PCE targeted several seats in the legislature including Rep. Sheryl Allen's seat. The people of Utah voted against those voucher candidates, and yet, those incumbents that were in safe districts still decided to strong-arm HB 148 through the legislature.

A minority (PCE) who support tax dollars for private academies purchased HB 148 from the majority Party. So when you say the people have spoken through their elected officials you are not actually telling the entire story. How many safe legislators actually campaigned on the voucher ticket?

Thanks for advancing the dialogue, and thanks for allowing me the same opportunity.

By the way, when I call someone a chicken I usually put photo of a chicken on my blog or say, "Bawk, BaWK!"

With every best wish,

The Utah Amicus"

Thanks, Rob.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Wayne Holland & Utah Amicus call Parents for Choice CHICKEN!

Rob posted on comments made by Wayne Holland regarding Parent's for Choice, lack of support for the voucher referendum. The Amicus poses the question, "If PCE is so confident about the opinions of Utahn's regarding HB148, why does the group focus so intensely on preventing the vote on the voucher referendum." Here is my answer, they don't want a vote on vouchers because they already have the bill passed by the elected state legislature. (Pretty Simple)

Although, I personally feel a vote is never a bad idea (this is America). I'm guessing PCE really doesn't care what a vote would bring on this issue, because a vote holds nothing but uncertainty. Keeping the bill off of a ballot will certainly keep the voucher system they and I desire in progress.

I appreciate the schoolyard antics, but everyone knows (as polls cited by both sides suggest) polls provide little certainty of how an actual vote will turn out. For all I or PCE knows voter turn out on the special election might be small due to apathy (I've been surprised talking to people how apathetic many people are to this issue), and the decision could be made by a minority of voters who will represent who knows which side of the voucher issue. PCE is as wise as I assume Utahns for Public Schools is, they will fight for the sure thing -- keeping HB148 off of a ballot.

Point is calling the opposition chicken is certainly dramatic, but it really isn't going to get this debate anywhere. I haven't heard, is the petition going to have enough signatures in time?

P.S. Although I support the voucher bills that are under scrutiny, I agree with the Amicus that vouchers should come to a vote that will be honored by the state legislature and the governor.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

St. George -- America's Fastest Growing Community

I learned that my town is the fastest growing community in the United States. It is always interesting to receive any "#1" distinction, but I wonder if St. George is handling the growth. According to Yahoo, St. George's median house price for new homes has dropped 48% at 299,900 and the overall median price is still nearly 400,000 -- very pricey for anyone looking for starter homes. Washington County School District cannot attract enough teachers to this county, and from what I understand the fire and police departments are experiencing similar woes respectively. Another subject of irritation for me is the roads and public services in this town, as my visiting brother-in-law put it, "St. George is a big city without the infrastucture."

I wonder what the coming months and years will have for St. George. I have a feeling that they maybe quite painful.

A vast number of locals who have purchased homes recently are in ARM's or negative ammortization loans. I have recently heard many stories of clients who have been approached about predatory lending arrangements, or clients that know people who are in predatory lending arrangements. I had a mortgage officer-client who discovered over 18 of his neighbors had signed into the infamous Franklin Squires ponzai scheme. As a reference, the scheme goes like this: Franklin Squires basically arrange to buy houses at above market prices and give a kickback to the buyer. They then offer (or rather require) for the buyer to invest the borrowed money with their company to keep their ponzai scheme going.

I fear that there may be many foreclosures eminent in this the fastest growing town.