Gov. Norm Bangerter rallied his forces Monday and got senators to approve his state spending limitation bill, 17-11, only a short time after they had voted it down.
A critic of the bill, Sen. Lorin Pace, R-Salt Lake, said it is meaningless since Bangerter and the Legislature have approved budgets that fall within the bill's parameters. The bill says state government can't grow any faster than does the population and inflation. "This bill doesn't do anything. And if we have any fiscal emergency, we can and will just put the law aside," which the bill allows, said Pace.But it was a campaign promise made by the governor, and he got enough of his Republican colleagues to carry the day. The bill now goes to him for his signature.
The spending limitation bill is just one of several bills reflecting Bangerter's six-point tax limitation plan announced during last year's election. The governor also promised to freeze property taxes. Last week House members, a bit confused, refused to allow Bangerter's tax freeze bill to be introduced.
Monday, Bangerter met with GOP legislative leaders and they promised, once again, that the bill will be heard. "If the House won't introduce it, the Senate will," said Senate President Arnold Christensen, R-Sandy.
House Majority Leader Craig Moody, R-Sandy, said senators had to pass the state spending limitation bill before he'd move to introduce Bangerter's property tax bill.
- SENATORS ALSO APPROVED changes in the Circuit Breaker law giving property tax relief to the poor and elderly. The House has passed a different version, that costs about $500,000 less, but the bill's sponsor, Sen. Haven Barlow, R-Layton, believes his measure will ultimately be adopted.
Barlow's bill would increase the maximum amount of property tax credit allowed the poor be increased from the current $300 a year to $400. It also increases the minimum income under which a person can apply for relief from $11,900 to $15,000. The minimum credit remains the same at that top income allowed, $50.
Bangerter, as part of his six-point plan, asked that the Circuit Breaker relief be increased from $1 million a year to $2 million. Barlow's increases the total relief from $1 million to $2.5 million, and both the Senate and House Republican caucuses agree with that amount of new relief, Barlow said.