- 2015 Session
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Base Budgets: A Strong Foundation
By Lyle Hillyard
Senate Chair of Exec Approps
By legislative rule, our Base Budget work had to be finished by noon today. We did it – with, according to one tweeter, a good four minutes to spare. These nine bills form a foundation and starting point for Utah’s ongoing budget process.
SB 1 – Public Ed (Stephenson/Eliason)
SB 5 – Natural Resources (Hinkins/McKell)
SB 6 – Executive Offices and Criminal Justice (Thatcher/Hutchings)
SB 7 – Social Services (Christensen/Ray)
HB 1 – Higher Ed (Grover/Urquhart)
HB 4 – Business, Econ Dev, and Labor (Pitcher/Shiozawa)
HB 5 – Retirement and Independent Entities (Powell/Weiler)
HB 6 – Infrastructure and General Gov (Froerer/Harper)
HB 7 – National Guard, Veterans’ Affairs & Leg (Sanpei/Hillyard)
I want to complement our committee chairs and legislators for the hard work that went into our Budget Effectiveness Review. In the end, our subcommittees identified nearly $156 million in potential offsets and reductions.
As I mentioned in a previous post on Utah’s budget process, we did not do this to simply cut budgets – but to perform a thorough budget review to be sure state money (nearly $14 billion) is spent wisely. We also did it to stress-test the existing budget, knowing that in some areas cuts would not be palatable. That part of the exercise informs our decisions on how we spend new revenue.
For these two reasons, Executive Appropriations did NOT accept all of the subcommittee suggestions. We did, however, find and enact some significant savings.
The substitute base budget bills we passed reduced our base by $100 million ongoing, and freed up another $62 million from one-time sources.
Admittedly, a lot of that $100 million ongoing is associated with education, which will be re-applied within the education budget that we pass toward the end of session. Still, not counting the education budget changes in these bills, our subcommittees found almost $20 million in ongoing sources – in addition to the $62 million one-time I mentioned earlier.
That’s well worth the effort.
In almost every case, subcommittees took this exercise seriously and performed their task earnestly.
EAC increased allocations for some subcommittees. For Public Education, we gave back the $63 million the subcommittee identified, and added another $58 million for growth. Other subcommittees were rewarded for their diligence as well.
These bills are not the end of budgeting – they are just the beginning. They’re the foundation on which we will build the rest of the budget. We look forward to seeing how subcommittees will apply the savings they found, as well as their increased allocations, to higher priority demands. We expect there will be no shortage in requests for new spending on top of the new allocations – in education, infrastructure, criminal justice, and elsewhere. Meeting those new needs in a sustainable manner will be our path forward.
Next steps: Prepare priorities for new funding, and look forward to updated revenue projections, due February 18th.