Sen. Lyle Hillyard: Tis the Season to be Jolly

As we are getting ready to announce the revenue figures, which will guide our budget work this upcoming session, a familiar poem came to my mind: T’was the night before Christmas (revenue announcements) and all through the House (and Senate as well), Not a creature was stirring except for a mouse (aka Fiscal Analyst). The stockings (budget requests) were all hung by the chimney (EAC chairs offices) with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. It is our plan to announce the new revenue figures on December…

Senator Hillyard Has It Right On Raising the Rainy-Day Fund Cap

By Derek Monson Last week, Senator Lyle Hillyard posted to The Senate Site that he and Representative Dean Sanpei would be sponsoring legislation to raise the limits on the general and education rainy-day funds (or budget reserves) which are currently at 8 percent and 9 percent of the previous year’s budget, respectively. Their proposal would raise these limits to 9 percent of the last year’s budget for the general rainy-day fund, and 11 percent for the education rainy-day fund. This proposal is the right thing to do for Utah taxpayers…

Budgeting for the Future

Earlier this year, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, named “Think Tank of the Year” in 2011 by Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, produced a review of state budget practices titled “Budgeting for the Future.”  They list 10 tools states can use to stabilize budgets and take a longer term approach to budgeting and planning.  From the executive summary: The state budget is the single most important document that a state government produces each year, and it receives close public scrutiny.  It serves as both a financial plan and a…

It’s all about the ROI

Return on Investment

I feel a little bad for Becky Lockhart. Her ambitious goal to bring a bunch of technology into classrooms has hit a major stumbling block as the Senate countered her $200M proposal with an offer of just $26M. Obviously, the  problem is going to be money. We only have so much of it to spend, and raiding the transportation budget seems to have ended up as a non-starter. I think this provides a very important lesson for legislators who want to get an ambitious spending plan approved: focus on the…

Games of chance legal in Utah. Who knew?

  In Utah, we don’t gamble. Games of chance are against the law. In fact, our State Constitution prohibits gambling. Yet every year a high stakes poker game plays out in our State Capitol as a $13.5 billion budget is ironed out. Think the World Series of Poker. On one side, The House led by Speaker Becky Lockhart. On the other side, the Senate let by President Wayne Niederhauser. Together, the two legislative bodies appropriate the budget. Another player at the table with a smaller stack of chips is Governor Gary…