This week the Utah Legislature held its monthly interim meetings. Leadership reserved this month’s meetings for in-depth budget discussions for each appropriations committee. The format allowed legislators to bring forward bills and ideas that contain significant fiscal implications and gauge the support of members for those financial commitments.
Budget & Economy
Also this week, as a part of the budget review, leadership heard a report from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, where it was announced that since the Legislative Session, revenues have exceeded expenses by nearly $130 million. That budget surplus came from nearly $80 million in additional income tax dollars found in the education fund, $50 million from the general fund balance and $10 million from the Transportation Fund.
A general economic report was given for the State, as well, and showed continued strong growth in the construction industry (home building), anticipated increases for the next two years in home prices, strong retail sales reports, due to the increased collection of online sales, and extremely low unemployment. All in all, a very strong economic outlook for legislators, especially as they try to tackle major issues such as increased school funding and tax reform.
UAC staff testified before the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday regarding the cost to county government to run the special election to fill the U.S. House seat in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.
The cost to run both a primary and a general election in the 3rd District would run at roughly $1.5 million, however, since the Governor elected to couple the special election with the 2017 municipal elections, counties are seeing a savings of just over a million dollars.
Still, there is unincorporated county to cover, and a republican primary for the 3rd District seat that has to be paid for. And with only 50 percent of the 54 municipalities within the 3rd District holding primary elections, the counties are going to have to provide ballots for a large portion of the district on their own.
While sympathetic to the counties’ plight, the Legislature seemed unwilling to help cover the additional cost of the special election. Still upset with the Governor for setting the election without their input, a number of legislators expressed their hope that the Governor’s Office would cover the cost. UAC will continue to work with both the Governor’s Office and the Legislature in an effort to obtain an appropriation during the 2018 General Session.