Senators decided Friday to pass a number of bills that spend money - either part of the $112 million one-time surplus in state coffers or part of the ongoing budget.
They can't say yet whether there'll be enough votes in either the House or Senate to cut other programs to fund the bills, but they wanted House members to at least review the bills next week. The session ends Feb. 27 at midnight, just 10 working days away.Senators passed a bill spending $4 million to study various sites on the Bear River for dams, including sites at Honeyville, Barrens, Avon, Mill Creek, Oneida Narrows and North Eden Creek. The bill also will fund a study on enlarging the current Hyrum Dam.
The Senate also approved a bill that would spend $12 million to give the current 13,500 state retirees who left employment after a 2 percent-per-year retirement plan took effect those same benefits. Sen. Dix McMullin, R-South Jordan, said he knows the state can't afford $12 million now, but at least those older retirees should get some kind of benefit increase.
Senators also approved spending $200,000 for development of recreational trails throughout Utah - money to be matched by local governments - and more than $100,000 to protect endangered species in southern Utah, especially the rare desert turtle.