At least $33 million must be cut from Gov. Norm Bangerter's proposed spending plan, including $16.2 million from the current budget year, lawmakers were told Monday.
Budget analysts for both the governor and the Legislature spent most of the morning behind closed doors, trying to sort out the impact the most recent quarter's tax receipts will have on revenue projections.What they came up with was announced on the floors of the House and the Senate by the co-chairman of the Legislature's Executive Appropriations Committee.
Rep. Glen Brown, R-Coalville, and Sen. LeRay McAllister, R-Orem, both said the Legislature's appropriations subcommittees are going to have to cut the tentative budgets each approved last week.
All of the appropriations subcommittees were scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Monday, and all were expected to come up with new budgets for the executive appropriations committee to begin reviewing on Tuesday.
According to calculations made by legislative fiscal analyst Leo Memmott, the amount of money left over at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30 will be short a total of $16.2 million.
That's money that was supposed to be spent on what lawmakers call supplementals - budget items that supplement the current-year spending. The governor has projected the state would have $50 million in surplus from the current fiscal year.The latest revenue projections for the upcoming budget year that begins July 1 are now a total of $17 million less than expected, money that will have to come out of the budget lawmakers will approve before the session ends on Feb. 27.
The projections may even be worse, according to Brown, who said during a House GOP caucus that the shortfall could be as much as $31 million, meaning lawmakers may have to dip into the state's so-called rainy-day fund, now at about $50 million.
On the Senate side, Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, suggested lawmakers consider making up the shortfall by reducing the proposed salary and benefit package for state employees and teachers from 5 percent to 4 percent.
McAllister said that cutting the salary package is not the only option. He also said this may not be the time to use the rainy day fund. "We have to decide of this is truly an emergency before we can raid the rainy day fund. The fund is not set up to deal with those kind of fluctuations," McAllister said.
The governor was spending the Presidents' Day holiday in St. George, but his chief of staff described the effect of the latest revenue projections as "fine-tuning rather than an overhaul."
"We're looking at a minor adjustment of less than 1 percent," Bud Scruggs said. "As good as the economy is in Utah, it is not immune to a major way and not immune to a national recession."