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Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
Medal of Honor recipient George Wahlen stands and is recognized as the Utah Senate approves funding of a second veterans nursing home in northern Utah.

Lawmakers had yet to finalize the state budget on Friday evening but said the only major item left to be negotiated was a deal to get an additional $25 million for teachers.

One major item that was formally funded Friday was almost $20 million for a second veterans nursing home, to be built in northern Utah. The funding was actually agreed to by legislative leaders and Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. earlier in the session, but they delayed the final vote until Friday so that dozens of veterans could gather at the Capitol to watch.

Several smaller "fiscal note" bills will be debated in the remaining three days of the session next week, but the budget is "pretty well done," said Senate budget chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan.

The Senate and House each released a list on Friday of funding requests and fiscal note bills that are anticipated to be approved next week. Each chamber had $2.5 million to spend, and members cast ballots to decide what items would get money.

Many of the fiscal note bills receiving funding are small expenditures with a big impact for the involved programs. They are often pet projects of legislators, either because of their location or topic.

Funding items for House members include $75,000 for a public education campaign about autism and developmental disabilities, sponsored by Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns. Another bill, from Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, gives $57,000 for cities and counties to post campaign finance information online.

But top on the House list were requests by Sen. DeMar "Bud" Bowman, R-Cedar City, to give money to the Utah Summer Games and a memorial in the Cedar City Veterans Park. Bowman recently underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his kidney and is not expected to return this session.

Another "wish list" item gives $150,000 to fund a study of a road over Utah Lake, as requested by Rep. Kenneth Sumsion, R-American Fork. Members of the transportation appropriations subcommittee declined to endorse this budget request, implying it would be a fruitless study because of environmental concerns with building a road over a lake, but the full House decided to support it.

In the Senate, funding bills will be debated that involve money for outreach for veterans and for meth decontamination of police officers. A Senate priority to get money for a judicial performance evaluation commission, sponsored by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, was also on the Senate list.

The measure stands to get $349,000 — the highest item funded by the Senate on its "wish list."

Buttars actually did quite well in the funding requests, as he also received $178,500 for a methamphetamine decontamination program.

In both the House and Senate, some regional cultural attractions fared well. The Freedom Festival in Provo will receive $107,000, thanks to a request from Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem; the Antelope Island Balloon Festival will get $25,000, thanks to Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville; $50,000 will go to the Heber Valley Railroad, as requested by Rep. Gordon Snow, R-Roosevelt; and the Utah Cowboy Hall of Fame in Ogden will receive $50,000 thanks to Rep. Lou Shurtliff, D-Odgen.

As for the $25 million for teachers, it is still being discussed between the governor and House and Senate leadership. The money would be one-time, and would amount to a 1 percent increase in the weighted pupil unit, or WPU.

Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, said in an interview earlier this week that the public should see a lot of activity this next week to pass any lingering bills or funding issues.

"The process is almost complete," he said. "You will see a real flurry of activity surrounding really small bills."

For a complete list of the funding prioritized Friday, visit deseretnews.com.


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House Fiscal Note Bills

One-time:

• Antelope Island Balloon Festival: $25,000 (Barrus)

• Cedar City Veterans Park: $50,000 (Bowman)

• Utah Summer Games: $50,000 (Bowman)

• Counseling for Families of Veterans: $50,000 (Cosgrove)

• Eye Care for Kids: $150,000 (Fisher)

• Higher Education Concurrent Enrollment: $150,000 (Hunsaker)

• Utah Cowboy Hall of Fame: $50,000 (Shurtliff)

• Heber Valley Railroad: $50,000 (Snow)

• Appropriation for Utah Lake Transportation Study: $150,000 (Sumsion)

Ongoing:

• Counseling for Families of Veterans: $50,000 (Cosgrove)

• Funding of Inmate Post-Secondary Education: $150,000 (Draxler)

• Head Start Funding: $100,000 (Shurtliff)

• Campaign Finance Posted on Web: $57,000 (Daw)

• Autism Registry: $75,000 (Hutchings)

Senate Fiscal Note Bills

One-time:

• Meth Decontamination: $178,500 (Buttars)

• Freedom Festival: $107,000 (Valentine)

• Ballet West n Capitol: $178,500 (Knudson)

• Veterans Outreach: $30,000 (Fife)

Ongoing:

• Safety Net Initiative: $306,900 (Bramble)

• Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission: $349,000 (Buttars)

• Mortgage Fraud: $150,000 (Killpack)

• Child and Family Protection/Legal Aid: $100,000 (McCoy)