Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News archives
An inmate holds the bars at the Utah State Prison.

SALT LAKE CITY — A joint resolution calling for the state to use Utah workers to build a new state prison was approved Friday by the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee.

"We have a skilled workforce here. We have to make sure our people work. We’re paying the taxes to build it," the sponsor of SJR15, Senate Minority Whip Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, told the committee.

The joint resolution spells out that a replacement for the aging Utah State Prison will be built with state rather than federal tax dollars and "will create jobs and be an economic engine" for the state.

Mayne, whose late husband Ed Mayne was head of the Utah AFL-CIO and a state senator, said she didn't want to see what is expected to be a more than $500 million construction project go to an out-of-state firm that would bring in workers.

She said the resolution would not preclude a contractor from using out-of-state labor with specialized skills. But Mayne said that shouldn't be necessary.

"The money needs to stay here. There’s no federal dollars here. It’s all our money," Mayne said.

It's not clear how soon a new prison will be built. Lawmakers agreed last year to relocate the prison, but the Legislature's Prison Relocation Commission is not expected to recommend a site until after the session ends next month.

The resolution was approved unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.

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