Legislators agree on plan to scale back budget cuts
By Robert Gehrke
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 01/26/2009 07:58:30 PM MST
House and Senate Republicans agreed on a budget framework Monday aimed at easing the pain of this year's cuts by putting off some building and water projects and borrowing about $32 million.
Legislators and the governor have found $175 million that they plan to use to patch half of a projected $350 million budget shortfall in the current year. Those funds would lapse on July 1, meaning deep cuts would still be needed next year.
The money would come from postponing a prison expansion, delaying research buildings and raiding the state disaster-recovery fund and water-development loan fund. The GOP legislators approved $32 million in bonds on top of that.
Some in the House Republican caucus objected to borrowing money through bonding. Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, compared it to putting money on the credit card when there is cash in the state's Rainy Day Fund.
The Senate approved the same plan in a closed caucus.
Legislators and a spokeswoman for the governor said details on what programs will receive the $175 million cushion still need to be worked out.
House Speaker Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, once again expressed his frustration that the governor refused to convene a special session to address the budget shortfall in December.
"I think the governor has got bad advice," said Clark. "I think the position we're in right now is far more harmful and … the measures we are going to have to take are going to be
deeper and are going to be felt across this state far more than if we were in a special session."