Utah legislative leaders approve new revenue estimates

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 15 2010 1:25 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah legislative leaders approved new revenue estimates Tuesday as they began dissecting the governor's budget before voting on it during the upcoming legislative session.

Already, members of the Republican House have said they oppose certain provisions of the $11.9 billion budget Gov. Gary Herbert laid out Friday. Some contend Herbert's proposal to tax small businesses quarterly instead of annually, as is currently the case, will put a damper on the economy.

"We want to keep stability for small businesses," said House Speaker-elect Becky Lockhart, R-Provo. She said it is the only strict position the caucus has taken on the budget so far.

Executive Appropriations Committee approved new tax revenue estimates on which the governor's budget is built. Analysts project a 4.9 percent increase in tax revenues that would equal a $216 million gain in 2012 over the current fiscal year.

"That's good because it shows people are out there earning, working and paying more money (in income tax)," said Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville.

Lawmakers expressed an interest in eliminating any structural imbalance present in the governor's budget proposal, but also said eliminating any deficit is critical. House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, said he wanted to remain conscious of commitments made last year when one-time funds were used for ongoing needs.

However, Waddoups differed saying he'd like to run the state like he does a home, paying his mortgage and other necessary bills with his paycheck and using extra money for one-time purchases.

House Republicans also want to look at cutting programs instead of fully funding them with ongoing money as is proposed in Herbert's budget.

"We've got to start putting the money where citizens can use it rather than creating another government bureaucracy," Waddoups said.

Discussion might come up on Herbert's proposal to maintain funding for all-day kindergarten, as some are opposed to the issue, while the GOP seems pleased with the governor's priority of funding K-12 education and enrollment increases.

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com

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