This is a followup to Friday's post
. The 21 members of the Senate Majority met on Saturday and finalized some worthy goals for this legislative session.First
of all, we decided that public education is the priority. The House Majority suggested funding Public Education at $300 million. The Governor wants $320 Million. After crafting a priority list and checking it twice we decided that the Governor’s $320 Million was the absolute minimum we would be willing to commit this year. The need is there. Look for historic levels of education funding.Second
, the caucus decided to continue the state's work on tax reform. We need to bring the rate down to a level (say, 5 percent) at which many more Utahns will reap the benefits of a flat tax. We also like the renewable energy credit, tax cuts for research and development which will attract more business to Utah, and a cut so your cable and satellite TV service are taxed at the same rate. The proposal for a uniform statewide rate for the sales tax on food is still on the table, but we need a clear picture of the impact on local government before the caucus falls in love with that one.
We think $150 million is a reasonable tax-cut target this year.Third
, avoiding unnecessary public debt has to be a top priority. We intend to set aside enough money for roads and buildings so no bond will be necessary this year. When you get a bonus, it's smart to pay off the credit cards. The Senate Majority believes we should use a chunk of the one-time surplus to pay down existing state debt.Fourth
, a pay increase for our state employees is a top priority - we need to keep up with inflation and retain our qualified workforce. Fifth
, we support a funding boost for Utah’s transportation infrastructure. Sixth
, it’s time to significantly increase the state’s investment in Higher Education.
This is just a start. Of course we charted out more numbers but it’s a little early to lock in. We need to hear from the public and let the appropriations & prioritization process run its course.Bottom line:
this is going to be a great year. We’re looking forward to working with our colleagues downstairs and on the other side of the aisle to hammer out all the details.