My View: A plea for fiscal preparedness

By Wayne Niederhauser, Rebecca Lockhart, Richard Ellis and John Dougall

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13 2013 12:05 a.m. MST

Utah State Capitol Building.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Together, we issue a plea for fiscal responsibility in an era of federal irresponsibility. We call on individuals and business and civic leaders to join us in preparing our families, businesses and communities to lead out as a model to the nation dealing with what has been called the most predictable economic crisis in history.

According to the most recent report of the Government Accountability Office and the Comptroller General of the United States, “The comprehensive long-term fiscal projections show that — absent policy changes — the federal government continues to face an unsustainable fiscal path.” While Utah is widely recognized as being the best managed State in the Nation, during fiscal year 2010, 45.3 percent of Utah’s spending was comprised of federal funds.

When necessary and painful changes are inevitably made at the federal level, the amount of federal funding available to our state, communities and citizens must decline, in some cases, substantially. Pending cuts from the federal Budget Control Act of 2011, under which 8-9 percent of federal discretionary spending in Utah and 9-10 percent of military spending are slated to be cut, still leave massive federal deficits in place. We anticipate that further cuts of federal funds to state and local governments must unavoidably follow.

Utahns know how to prepare for and deal with crisis better than anyone! We invite everyone, young and old alike, to join us in establishing and implementing the Financial Ready Utah initiative to help Utahns prepare for the financial challenges that lie ahead. We urge you to visit FinancialReadyUtah.com to find additional resources and specific actions you can take.

During this Legislative session, a team of Legislators has prepared a package of bills that will lay the groundwork for preparing our state, our communities and our families to address these challenges including legislation which establishes a Federal Funds Review Commission to evaluate the risks and implements comprehensive planning measures to address these challenges.

We have an obligation to our children and our grandchildren to make sure that we do not leave a legacy of selfishness and entitlement. We need to model the behaviors we say we value — thrift, hard work, generosity of spirit and true community care. Sometimes when problems are so enormous, like the current federal debt situation, we feel frozen. But each of us can start today by not spending beyond our means, getting out of debt, putting away savings or supplies for a rainy day and asking our political leaders to do the same! We can start today by holding elected officials accountable for their stewardship of taxpayer funds.

We encourage you to get involved! Mobilize your communities, including your cities, counties, chambers of commerce and other organizations to adopt a Resolution supporting the Financial Ready Utah efforts. Such resolutions leverage everyone’s commitment and support to lead our nation in preparing for the coming financial turmoil as the federal government right-sizes its spending.

Join us, to become Financial Ready, Utah!

Wayne Niederhauser is the president of the Utah State Senate. Rebecca Lockhart is the speaker of the Utah House of Representatives. Richard Ellis is the Utah State Treasurer. John Dougall is the Utah State Auditor

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