With the adjournment of the 1991 Legislature less than two days away, lawmakers still haven't agreed on how much money they're going to spend despite renewed pressure from Gov. Norm Bangerter.
If they don't come up with a budget by midnight Wednesday, lawmakers will have to try again in 30 days. They'll have to do the same if they do come up with a budget that Bangerter vetos.A compromise reached last week between Republicans in the House and Senate appeared to have fallen apart Monday after the governor tried to talk the House caucus into spending more money.
That compromise called for lawmakers to approve two budgets, one based on dismal revenue projections and a second that would boost spending if the economy starts looking better by late summer.
Bangerter wants lawmakers to fund all of his proposed $3.5 billion budget even though the legislative fiscal analyst is telling them that much money won't be there when the new budget year begins July 1.
But after hearing the governor's pitch, House Speaker Craig Moody, R-Sandy, said the caucus doesn't even want to approve the tentative increases in the second budget.
"I can't control everybody," Moody said after the closed-door caucus, adding that the best the governor could hope for now is a return to the compromise.
Bangerter plans to do better than that. The Republican leader, who secured the support of teachers and state education officials for his budget, now can count on Democrats for help.
Monday, the Democrats agreed to help Bangerter get his budget proposal through the GOP-dominated House and Senate. The strategy is to get the support of moderate Republicans.
House Democrats had proposed that even more money be spent, arguing that the revenue projections made by the legislative fiscal analyst have turned out to be too low in recent years.
Now the Democrats have come up with their own compromise by supporting the governor's budget. They won't get as much as they wanted but could end up with more than they would get under the GOP compromise.
Monday's caucus vote aside, GOP leaders are coming around, according to Bud Scruggs, the governor's chief of staff. "Leadership ignored it the first time we proposed it. They yelled Friday, but they only murmured this morning."
Scruggs said the governor is calling for "making hard decisions next session rather than suffering now, suffering in September and suffering next session."
Moody doesn't agree with that logic. The House speaker said what the governor is proposing amounts to deficit spending, which is not permitted under the state constitution.
"I can't vote for that and sleep at night knowing I swore to uphold the constitution," Moody said, adding that he believes the majority of Utahns would agree with him.