Utah Senate to reconvene Saturday for override of workweek bill
SB229 had been the focus of the session called by legislative leaders. The bill would set aside nearly 30 percent of additional future sales-tax revenues for road construction, beginning in 2013. Herbert said the earmark could hurt other state programs, including education.
SB229's sponsor, Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, has said his bill would not only ensure better funding for transportation, it would create in effect a second Rainy Day Fund that could be used to help other areas of the budget in tough times.
The bill is also seen as a way of avoiding a gas-tax increase in the 2012 Legislature, given that's an election year for the majority of lawmakers. A bill boosting the gas tax failed last session.
Lockhart urged the GOP House caucus to vote to override the bill, saying it's the Legislature that has responsibility for setting the state budget and is "not subservient" to the executive branch.
The House vote on SB229 was delayed while one member, Rep. Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, made up his mind. The former House speaker, who ended up casting the deciding vote for the bill, wanted assurances from leadership that there would be road maintenance money for southern Utah.
In the Senate, Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, raised the same concern about rural roads, warning that without maintenance money, "we're going to lose them and have to reconstruct."
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, joined Democrats in opposing the SB229 override, warning it was just another in a long list of budget earmarks. Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, disagreed. "To me this is not binding earmarking at all," Stephenson said. "This is setting a budgeting goal."
Lawmakers took no action on the other two bills from the 2011 Legislature vetoed by the governor, SB305, which would have used a Web-based tool to align the needs of business with education, and SB294, which would have adjusted the prices and types of health care policies that could be offered in Utah.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Fruit Heights, said neither bill is expected to be raised during Saturday's override session. Jenkins said he expected the vote on the HB328 override to go smoothly, but there's always the risk it won't.
"You never know until the vote is cast," he said. "If we've done our job, the votes will be there."
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