Lawmakers Working Cuts Into the Budget Equation

(KCPW News) Utah lawmakers are spending several hours today in budget meetings as they prepare for the legislative session, which begins Monday. Republicans foresee at least a 7 percent cut across the board, sharply differing from Governor Gary Herbert’s more optimistic budget proposal. Ron Bigelow, Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, says Herbert recommended state agencies prepare feedback to the legislature, informing them of the impact of such a cut. But they won’t be recommending any specific cuts to lawmakers.

“The instruction that was given was answer any question, provide any information that’s requested, other than a prioritization or recommendation if it should be cut or not.” He says.

Ben Horsley, spokesman for Granite School District, says he’s pleased lawmakers on the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee considered eliminating line item mandates, which would give local school districts more control over resources.

“If you look at our overall expenditures 90 percent of it is personnel, so if the state’s eliminating a mandate, that could mean a program gets eliminated, whereas if the state passes the buck onto the school district it probably means personnel and an increase in class sizes.” He says.

Funding for this school year won’t be impacted by budget cuts, as the state’s 2012 budget year starts in July.