SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House voted down a measure Monday to save the state's severance tax revenue in a trust account rather than spend it as part of the general fund.
"The question is, 'Are our needs today more important than the needs of our children and grandchildren?'" said Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, sponsor of HB210.
The House downed the bill 39-36, with many Republicans joining Democrats in opposition.
Nielson's proposal would have phased in about $96 million a year going into reserve accounts, including $20 million in the upcoming budget. The state collects about that amount annually from taxes placed on oil, gas and mineral extracted from the ground.
Those opposed to the bill said even though Utah is doing better economically, this isn't the time to take money from the general fund that pays for things such as roads, social services and higher education.
"Now is not the time to bind ourselves or future legislatures by removing this funding from the critical needs we currently have," said Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake. "I am not going to make my kid skip a meal today or go hungry so we can save for tomorrow."
Nielson said he knows times aren't great, but the state can't continue to spend without putting money away if the economy worsens again.
"What if today is as good as it gets?" he asked. "What if these are the good times?"
Had the state saved the revenue since imposing the tax in the 1930s, it would have about $1.4 billion in the fund, Nielson said. The fund currently contains about $100 million.
- Rocky Mountain Power: Thousands on Wasatch...
- 5 places your money might be hiding
- Ballet West artists prepare original works...
- Utah communities still among fastest-growing...
- Idaho man accepts plea deal in Logan shootout...
- Hundreds of Utah coal miners speak out on...
- Salt Lake police looking for 2 men in repeat...
- UTA taking threat to block funding 'seriously'
- Utah man held 1,164 days in jail... 37
- 'Dirty soda' lawsuit calls shop's... 22
- Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt advising... 20
- Lightning damages Angel Moroni statue... 18
- Herbert says Sec. Jewell offered... 17
- Sutherland Institute looks to broaden... 15
- Are you willing to pay a fee to use... 14
- Utah defends busting theater for... 12