Utahns anxiously awaiting details on federal budget cuts

Published: Monday, Aug. 1 2011 7:00 p.m. MDT

If federal funding is indeed reduced to those programs, he said he's not expecting the state to make up the loss, especially after several tough budget years.

"There's no alternative but to decrease services unless someone wants to come up with more revenue from state sources," Shumway said.

Gov. Gary Herbert's budget director, Ron Bigelow, said the state has already been preparing for reductions in federal funds, but he, too, is waiting to see what effect the debt-reduction deal will have on Utah spending.

State agencies are already required to halt spending for programs paid for with federal funds if that funding ends. And a new state law requires agencies to have contingency plans in place by October for reductions in federal funding.

Bigelow said the state expects a surplus from the budget year that ended June 30 on the "high side" of an earlier estimate of between $10 million and $110 million. Plus the state has a $200 million Rainy Day fund.

Still, he said, it would be up to lawmakers to decide whether to restore any federal cuts to the state budget, either in a special session or during the 2012 Legislature.

"A lot of people would like the state to step in and solve every problem. But, of course, we don't because we also have an obligation to the taxpayer," he said. "We can't keep going to people who are just barely getting by and say, 'Pay more taxes.'"

Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, the sponsor of the legislation requiring contingency plans for the loss of federal revenue, said lawmakers will be "boring and prudent" in dealing with any federal cuts.

"We're still going to take care of our poor people in Utah. We're still going to take care of our roads. We're still going to educate our children," Ivory said. "That's just Utah values. That's just who we are. That's just what we do."

Contributing: Marjorie Cortez

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

Twitter: dnewspolitics

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