New Utah revenue numbers 'disappointing'

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012 8:53 p.m. MST

"I don't think it should surprise people there are minor ups and downs here and there in income and sales tax," she said. "I'm not disappointed."

Senate Budget Chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, acknowledged there's "been a lot of expectations” for a big boost in revenues.

"The bad news is, they haven’t increased very much," Hillyard said.

Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said he was pleased the state's tax revenue picture was steady, if not slightly improving.

"We're doing well comparatively but we're still impacted by the national economy," Waddoups said.

He said another $23 million available though a recently announced national mortgage lender settlement should go to bolster the state's Rainy Day fund.

The Legislature's GOP majority and the governor have agreed to cover the cost of growth in public education, about $36 million, and eliminate the $52 million so-called structural imbalance in the budget, created by using one-time money to pay for ongoing programs in lean years.

Add in the state's increased Medicaid costs and other programs expected to win funding approval and there may only be some $20 million left to be used towards tens of millions of dollars in budget subcommittee priorities.

Voices for Utah Children issued a statement urging lawmakers approach the new budget with caution.

Revenues still lag behind what the state took in during robust budget years, the advocacy group said, at the same time families need more help than ever dealing with the affects of a troubled economy.

At the same time, the Salt Lake Chamber said the new revenue estimates are a reason to be optimistic and suggested lawmakers "use these funds to further propel the state's ongoing and accelerating recovery."

Contributing: Marjorie Cortez

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

Twitter: dnewspolitics

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