- With some 54 bills on the table to alter, reduce or otherwise change Utah taxes and dispose of a $19 million surplus, Sen. Stephen Rees, R-Taylorsville, has yet another solution: Use the money to get the state out of debt.
In a Republican press conference Friday, Rees said the state should use the excess funds to "pay as you go" when it builds new facilities. And it should pay off the state's bonded indebtedness over the next five years, saving some $50 million a year."There is no better gift to give our young people than to be debt free," said Rees. "And it would be a real inducement to industries thinking about moving here, that we are a state that promotes thrift and responsibility."
- Republicans Friday also unveiled the familiar axiom: "State spending should grow no faster than inflation plus population growth." It's an old idea on Capitol Hill. In fact, the Legislature in 1979 passed a law to that effect but it has never been implemented because it said lawmakers must enact the provisions of the law each session.
This time, though, Republicans say they will introduce legislation to require mandatory compliance with the inflation-plus-population-growth formula. In fact, the only way around it would be through a vote of the people or by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.
Lawmakers say the spending limitation measure, which is an outcrop of Gov. Norm Bangerter's Tax Limitation Committee, is only a forerunner. Additional legislation is being prepared that would mandate local governments comply with the same formula.
"We must demonstrate we are willing to impose those restrictions upon ourselves first before we mandate it to cities and counties," said Rep. Glen Brown, R-Coalville. "After we pass our bill, we will follow it with one for the local governments."