It's sort of like Christmas Eve on Capitol Hill. Presents are all brightly wrapped and stacked neatly under the Christmas tree. And everyone is on their best behavior.
Folks on the west side of Salt Lake County are hoping for a shiny, new West Valley Highway. Folks in Midvale hope to clean up hazardous tailings from a long-abandoned steel plant. Folks in west Davis County want the Antelope Island causeway rebuilt.Prosecutors in the attorney general's office want a pay raise. Public Safety personnel want a new fingerprint computer. Dixie College officials would like a new television station. The list goes on - and on.
There is anticipation in the air. State revenue projections - those nebulous predictions of future income upon which the Legislature bases next year's budget - should be released Tuesday.
Will state government have enough new money to restore the cuts of past years? Will there be a little left over for new programs - like new highways and water projects? Or will lawmakers "waste" part of it by reducing taxes?
In contrast to recent years when state officials faced the grim prospect of budget cuts, this year's budget will not require department heads to pare back services. In fact, some, like Gov. Norman Bangerter, are predicting enough new revenue to satisfy most of what state government wants.
But how much more will they have in 1989-90?
Like children who hope for more Christmas gifts than they actually receive, chances are good that the budget requests will far outstrip any available funds. Requests for new funding are already approaching $100 million, and the total is expected to climb much higher before the Legislature closes its doors Feb. 22.
"I expect most of those requests for funding to filter away before it's all over," said Rep. Byron Harward, R-Provo.
Still, there's going to be a lot of money floating around - a $47 million surplus from the current year's budget that lawmakers say could be "rolled over" into next year's budget.
Lawmakers are emphatic they will not use the $47 million surplus for ongoing programs. Rather they will use it for one-time expenses like the West Valley Highway ($12 million), to match federal Superfund grants ($4 million) and perhaps even to build new state buildings instead of bonding.
Early revenue forecasts predicted $19 million in new growth which the governor and many lawmakers want to give back to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts. But what if, as many predict, the final figures are much higher than $19 million?
Then tax cuts could be higher. Or lawmakers could prioritize $44 million in legislative committee recommendations for new funding to bolster state agencies and departments.
Or do both if the projections are high enough.
Legislative committees Friday completed the process of going through each department and agency and scrutinizing each request.
CHART> Requests by state departments for funding above and beyond the current year's budget:
COMMUNITY & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: $1.16 million
PUBLIC EDUCATION: $7.1 million
SOCIAL SERVICES & HEALTH: $19 million
TRANSPORTATION & PUBLIC SAFETY: $285,000
HIGHER EDUCATION: $14 million
NATURAL RESOURCES: $700,000
COURTS & CORRECTIONS: $1.4 million
BUSINESS, LABOR & AGRICULTURE: $430,000
TOTAL: $44 million
Bills requiring funding that have been passed by committees:
Antelope Island causeway reconstruction: $5 million
Access Roads to certain state parks: $1.4 million
Legislative Task Force to study the Bear River: $100,000
Circuit-breaker property tax relief for the elderly: $750,000-$4.5 million
A cap on transportation monies that can be used for non-transportation items: $8 million
Tougher penalties for career criminals: $225,000
State funds to match federal Superfund toxic waste clean up monies: $4 million
New sales tax accounting procedures that returns to cities their portion sooner: $7 million
West Valley Highway: $12 million
Bear River Task Force: $150,000
New Social Services and Health programs: $3.5 million
A Tax credit for parents of handicapped children: $900,000
TOTAL: $46.7 million