While most Utahns are busy with holiday preparations this weekend, state officials likely will be poring over Gov. Norm Bangerter's budget recommendations, trying to figure out just how well they fared.
The governor Friday released his proposed $3.5 billion spending plan for the budget year beginning July 1, 1991. Bangerter warned the state will not be able to keep up with inflation, growth and federal mandates.That means fewer happy surprises and more disappointment for state government officials. But most of his appointees said the governor did the best he could with the state revenues he had available.
"The budget process by definition is sharing the misery," said Stan Parrish, executive director of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
Following are the initial reactions to the governor's budget by state department officials Friday, shortly after they received their copies of the 100-plus-page budget book. PUBLIC EDUCATION
Amount recommended by governor: $1.389 billion ($1,389 per weighted pupil unit).
Happiest with: the increase in the weighted pupil unit, recognition of growth needs and attempt to decrease class size at first-grade level.
Most disappointed by: the governor's failure to fund the school finance increases outlined in a State Office Study and failure to increase funding for handicapped and vocational education programs to the extent requested.
What it means: "The governor recognized our need to fund growth and the problems we have with class size. At this point in time, when the rest of the nation is in a recession, he showed courage in attempting to get more help to education. We're aware of his limitations and appreciate his concerns," said state Superintendent of Public Education Jay B. Taggart.
Amount recommended: $35.6 million.
Happiest with: the governor's recommendation to fund 5,600 new full-time resident students. The governor, however, did not recommend the full request of 6,551 new full-time students; he eliminated funding for new out-of-state students.
Most disappointed by: the governor's failure to recommend any funding for the salary adjustments designed to help faculty salaries catch up to those of their out-of-state peers, new program investments and the Applied Technology Centers at colleges. He also recommended only half of the increase in student financial aid.
What it means: The institutions won't be able to pay for new out-of-state students, the faculty salaries will likely fall further behind their out-of-state peers and the schools will have to rob other programs for student financial aid or else lose matching federal dollars. "This proposal still leaves us with obviously unmet needs," said Wm. Rolfe Kerr, commissioner of higher education.
Amount recommended: $126,617,800 in general fund, $351,288,900 with the federal matching funds.
Happiest with: "I'm happiest that we covered at least the caseload increase and the mandatory kinds of programs that we have to cover. We won't have to cut something else to fund the federally mandated programs," Department of Human Services Director Norm Angus said.
Most disappointed by: "We're stuck still with all of the waiting lists and all of the folks needing some kind of service and not getting it," Angus said. "There's no cost of living adjustment for public assistance recipients. There are no treatment programs for youth drug abusers. That whole list that shows the growing needs for services - it's not being met."
What it means: "We won't know for sure until we have time to look through the budget carefully. But some people won't get services. If you look at Handicapped Services, there are no new community programs. We're going to be hard-pressed to continue out-movement at the Training School."
Amount recommended: $445 million.
Happiest with: "I'm most pleased that the governor has funded the majority of the federal mandates for Medicaid," said Dr. Suzanne Dandoy, director of the state Health Department.
Most disappointed by: "I think I'm most disappointed that there does not appear to be funding for basic environmental health services for local health departments," Dandoy said.
What it means: "It means that we are not going to be able next year to add any new or additional services. It's very much a maintenance budget," she said.
MEDICAID and UTAH MEDICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Amount recommended: $72.5 million from the general fund. With the federal matching funds, that would bring the budget to $270 million. (The programs are included in the Health Department budget.)
Happiest with: "The governor heard how much damage would be done if we had to live with the $3 million in new money that was proposed in the preliminary process. We had $13 million in identified need (that's state money only). His budget reduced the size of the problem from $10 million to $2 million," said Rod Betit, director of Health Care Financing, which administers Utah's low-income medical programs including Medicaid.
Most disappointed by: "Nothing really," Betit said. "I was initially a little worried because of the amount we'd have to take in the way of reductions. I'm delighted. But we will see about a $.5 million reduction in the Utah Medical Assistance Program and about $1.5 million in the Medicaid program. With the federal match, it will be about $6 million."
What it means: "There is some potential for some program reductions to occur July 1, 1991," Betit said, after warning that the numbers are projections and it's too soon to predict what demand for services will be in July and after. No decisions on reductions have been made, although there are several possibilities. For example, adults may not be able to get help to pay for organ transplants.
Amount recommended: $46,925,000.
Happiest with: "We've been able to find money for continuation costs, especially in the area of fuel," said Public Safety Commissioner Doug Bodrero. The department requested a $354,600 increase in fuel costs, and received $197,000. For the current year, the Utah Highway Patrol received an additional $186,300 to cover rising gasoline costs.
Most disappointed by: "We would have liked to have seen more troopers recommended, and the governor would have, too. But we realize the fiscal realities of life," Bodrero said. The department requested funding for 33 more troopers, and Bangerter recommended just three more.
What it means: "It means pretty much status quo," Bodrero said. "We will be providing basic services" along with improvements in driver's license processing with two additional offices in Salt Lake and Utah counties, funded by a $5 increase in driver's license fees.
Amount recommended: $151,722,000.
Happiest with: "Commitment for $20 million in bonding program for projects above and beyond what we were able to schedule in past," said Utah Department of Transportation Director Eugene Findlay. The bonding money will go toward reconstruction of the highway in Provo Canyon and U.S.-89 in Weber and Davis counties. "Also we are pleased with the continued commitment ($16.8 million) to the West Valley Highway."
Most disappointed by: "Nothing really. We recognized we wouldn't get the things we didn't," Findlay said. The largest item that went unfunded was $2.5 million in equipment purchases. But Findlay said he has canceled all purchases following an audit that showed UDOT has too much heavy equipment and vehicles.
What it means: "It shows a commitment by Gov. Bangerter to address transportation needs while under tremendous pressure to fund education and social services," Findlay said, noting the $20 million portion from bonding going toward a transportation project is a first.
Amount recommended: $47.1 million. The recommendation does not include supplemental appropriation recommendations.
Happiest with: "I think overall we were treated fairly. I think the governor has a good appreciation for economic development and what needs to be done. I can't say there was one thing that pleased me more than the rest," Parrish said.
Most disappointed by: "I didn't get all of that in continuation costs (mostly rent and personnel cost increases), which means we have to take it out of programs. I was in hopes we could have at least had continuation costs."
What it means: "It impacts the amount you can travel, advertise and the amount of marketing you can do in the state," Parrish said of the budget's effect on the state's economic development efforts.
The increased costs means "We share it across the department. It's taking a little from all of the programs."
Amount recommended: $48.3 million.
Happiest with: The governor's recognized the need to raise judges' salaries and covered the cost of restructuring the court clerk system. His comments today also voiced support for plans to restructure and consolidate trial courts. "We think that will significantly improve the quality and efficiency of the court system," said William C. Vickrey, state court administrator.
Most disappointed by: The budget does not cover the increase in some basic costs like buildings leases and mail expenses. The judicial council sought a 14 percent salary increase for judges and justices. The governor only recommended a 4 percent increase. The governor did not give the system enough money to hire law clerks at the Utah Court of Appeals. The clerks would have helped the court dispose of cases more quickly, Vickrey said.
Amount recommended: $65.2 million.
Happiest with: The department will receive about $1 million more to compensate for inflation.
Most disappointed by: Important programs will be eliminated, and $150 million in development projects will not be funded.
What it means: Layoffs for some and pay increases for others. "We have experienced a high turnover rate, and we may consider not replacing those who leave and raising the salaries of those who stay. Fewer bodies means less service to the public, but maybe that is an appropriate tradeoff in these tough times," said Dee Hansen, director of the state Department of Natural Resources.