By the time a report on government efficiency is released, state officials will have figured out how to explain away millions of dollars in recommended savings, the leader of a tax-limitation movement said Thursday.
Greg Beesley, president of the Tax Limitation Coalition, said he has heard "scuttlebutt" that Gov. Norm Bangerter and his staff have taken time to craft careful rebuttals to the study, which reportedly recommends changes that could save between $40 million and $60 million."It's the David and Goliath syndrome again," Beesley said. "They (the administration) have been given three months to look at the report and everyone will be on us right away for a response."
But officials in Bangerter's office said
hursday the governor received the final version of the report earlier this week and will release it to reporters at a 3 p.m. news conference Friday.
"We will give the public and press the whole report," said Francine Giani, Bangerter's press secretary. "We will not hold back one thing."
She said she did not know whether government officials have been given an opportunity to write a response to the recommendations.
"I would hope they have," she said. "They have a right to. These are their agencies."
The report has become a touchy political issue in light of three tax-limiting initiatives on the November ballot. Although Bangerter formed the committee and appointed its members - about 40 businessmen and professionals - he already has criticized the group for going too far with its recommendations.
Bangerter formed the committee before independent gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook broke away from the Republican Party to start his own campaign. Cook supporters now believe the report bolsters their argument that government is full of waste and that voters should approve the three initiatives.
Beesley also took credit Thursday for coaxing Bangerter to form the committee last year.
The committee itself has had internal conflicts, with some members resigning rather than agreeing to the recommendations.
The final study reportedly recommends the University of Utah save millions of dollars by raising its entrance requirements, thus accepting fewer students who are better qualified than many now attending.
Critics of the report say such a move would merely push students to other state schools, such as Weber State College or Utah State University. Students also may be forced to leave the state for an education.
The committee reportedly also recommends that university professors spend more time teaching and less time researching. Critics say that would reduce the university to little more than a community college.
Beesley said he has not seen the report, which studied the U. of U., Granite School District, the state Health Department and the statewide computer system. Although he is friends with committee member Allan Elggren, Beesley has been unable to obtain a copy.
"We know some of the people on the committee, but their integrity wouldn't let them release it (the report)," Beesley said, adding he believes a group known as Taxpayers For Utah has a copy of the report.
Taxpayers For Utah was formed to fight against the three tax-limiting initiatives.
Beesley said he believes Bangerter would have held the report until January without constant pressure from the Tax Limitation Coalition.
"If it (the final report) is a revision from the original recommendations, we are going to kick up our heels," he said.