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Here’s a little primer about Utah’s budget

October 8, 2012

The Legislature Sets the State Budget. The budget is the Legislature’s plan for spending the State’s limited resources. The budget funds all state agencies‐including prisons, schools, higher education, new bills, new buildings, debt service, and highways. Finding the right balance is the Legislature’s challenge.

The Constitution requires a balanced state budget. The first step is to decide how much money is in the budget. To reduce disagreements, the LFA, the Governor, and the Tax Commission estimate income using their own methods. Then they meet together and agree on a single revenue estimate. All parties balance budgets to that amount. General, Education, and Uniform School Funds typically called “state funds” get most of the attention.

All Legislators Sit on Budget Committees. Utah’s unique appropriation process involves every legislator. Each member sits on the Joint Appropriation Committee and is assigned to at least one of eight Joint Appropriation committees are: “Business, Economic Development and Labor”, “Executive Offices and Criminal Justice”, “Higher Education Infrastructure and General Government”, “Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality”, “Public Education”, “Retirement & Independent Entities”, “Social Services”.

The Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) coordinates subcommittee activities and facilitates a state‐wide budget. Some state agencies (National Guard, Veterans, Capital Preservation Board, and the Legislature) report directly to the EAC. The Legislature sets state budgets by passing spending bills. Legislators hold a series of meetings before they write the budget. They hear from staff analysts and program managers, take public testimony, and measure performance.

EAC meets to make final decisions. It then directs the Analyst to write the bills, which show the Legislature’s priorities set in dollars.

Budget Bills. The budget is not in just one bill, but many:

-The Base Budget bill funds state agencies in the coming year with the same budget as the current fiscal year but with one‐time funding removed. The Legislature passes the bill early in the session.

-The New Fiscal Year Supplemental, sometimes called the “Big Bill,” adds to and takes away from the Base Budget. It has all rates and fees.

-Current Fiscal Year Supplemental adds to and takes away from the budget year currently underway.

-Minimum School Program Amendments is public education’s “Big Bill.” It changes the value of the Weighted Pupil Unit and funds other public education programs.

-The Compensation Bill has all budget changes related to personnel costs. This includes salary adjustments, and insurance rate changes. It does not include school districts.

-The General Obligation Bond Bill authorizes general obligation bonds and projects.

-The Revenue Bond Bill authorizes (by project) state and higher education lease and revenue bonds.

-Appropriations Adjustments is known as the “Bill of Bills” because it funds each bill passed with a fiscal note. It is the last spending bill passed and contains last minute changes to the current and coming year.

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From → 2012 Interim

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