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Legislative report by Rep. McIff

This week at the capitol we've received new revenue projections and we're working to finalize the state budget. We already passed a base budget as a guide, but we are now able to appropriate new ongoing and one-time revenue. Our new budget projections are: $264 million in ongoing revenue and $161 million in one-time revenue.

It's important to recognize the difference between the two types of revenue. We can expect the source of ongoing revenue to remain about the same year to year, but one-time revenue can only be used once. Except in cases of emergency, the state of Utah does its best to avoid paying for ongoing costs with one-time revenue.

The ongoing revenue will go to support the growth of 12,500 additional students in public education as well as the increase in public employee health and retirement costs. One-time revenue costs include a $20 million bill from the series of forest fires last summer and much needed operations and maintenance funding for a variety of state buildings that had their funding cut during the recession.

The federal government's tax increase earlier this year had a $100 million negative impact on our revenue projections. And in the event the federal government chooses sequestration, as much as $50 million in funding will be impacted. By the time of publication of this report, the federal issue will likely be resolved.

With or without the federal impact, the dollars will be less than expected, requiring many tough decisions when it comes to balancing our budget. Legislators and appropriations committees have put together a $900 million wish list of what to do with the money. Every group has a good reason for needing the money, so it will take a lot of wisdom and a little bit of luck to see which bills obtain the coveted funding. Despite federal mismanagement, we will hold education harmless and continue to provide a safety net for Utah's most needy. While the scramble to get funds is fierce, you can rest assured that the budget will be balanced and completed by the end of the session on March 14.

There are an unusual number of bills that deal with state and federal relationships involving firearms, environmental issues, endangered species, healthcare and others. As Washington becomes increasingly less fundamental, the burden on the state increases. It appears that our ability to "right the ship" will be severely tested during the next few years. I'm not pessimistic, but I am persuaded that we need to get our act together and that a good dose of common sense would be most useful.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you regarding your concerns and expectations.




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