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Friday, July 07, 2006

New Jersey

Glad to see our sister state was able to work out a compromise agreement and pass a budget.

Interestingly, a New Jersey-style Shutdown would not happen in Utah -- not because we’re all angels and love each other that much, but because of a recent policy experiment in the budgeting process.

The Utah Legislature passes a base budget (the previous year’s budget adjusted for inflation, federal program money, and other non-controversial items) in the first several days of the legislative session. We then spend the rest of the time debating tax cuts, new spending proposals and more controversial items.

The upshot is that it is much more difficult for our state government to be held hostage over a single policy initiative or line item. Worst-case scenario – in cases of standoff, gridlock, and breakdown – the state government would run off of the last year’s base budget – which was passed with a few adjustments in the first few days of session, before the fighting really got started.

We’ve used the new method for two years now and it seems to be working well.

President Valentine in yesterday's KCPW interview:
"In the first 10 days, we take the non-controversial items and pass those base budgets. And then we argue on the more controversial issues towards the end," explains Valentine. "It leaves us with a base budget by default if every thing else falls apart."

"That's [one of the reasons] why Utah is one of the best financially-managed states in the Nation," adds Valentine.
Previous blogs on the Utah process:
Base Budgets? (January 12, 2006)

Early Budget Approval (October 15, 2005)


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