The Senate Site Don’t Panic

Don’t Panic

Posted in 2011, Featured on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 7:52 PM 6 Comments

By Michael Waddoups
President of the Utah State Senate

Tomorrow our appropriations subcommittees will meet to start correcting the structural imbalance in the state budget. That means reducing ongoing state expenditures by $313 Million, or about 7 percent.

To jump-start the discussion, our staff prepared a Menu of Options – a list of potential cuts.

As those lists become public, you can expect to hear weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. No one likes the thought of their treasured program under the microscope with an eye toward cuts. Everyone’s sacred cow is on that list. Even mine.

But don’t panic. Here’s why:

1. The Menu of Options totals $535 Million. We only need $313 M, so not everything on that list is in imminent danger.

2. These aren’t the only options and may not even be the best ones. We’re looking for a lot of thoughtful input from agencies and advocates on the smartest way to right the structural imbalance. Subcommittees may find better solutions. Each legislator will bring ideas to the table.

3 . The session hasn’t yet begun and we’ve a long road yet to travel. Tomorrow is a starting point. The process will be fair and every legislator will have a say and a vote in the eventual outcome.

Bottom line: When you rely on credit cards to pay the mortgage it means you’re in trouble. It means your income to expenditure ratio is out of balance and that’s unsustainable.

In the same sense, Utah has an unsustainable income-to-expenditure ratio, called a structural imbalance. Coming out of the Great Recession, our ongoing spending commitments are still $313 Million greater than our steady income. Tomorrow’s work will begin putting that back in balance.

Thanks for understanding and we look forwards to working with all of you. The end product will be something we can all be proud of.

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6 Comments to “Don’t Panic”

  1. Yorgus says:

    If our legislature would listen to the general populace, and not just the stridently loud, they would find that most citizens are willing to accept a modest increase in taxes in order to preserve services.

    No doubt, there are some items in the budget which could be cut with little harm. However, most of the budget comprises items that were put there with considerable thought.

    Get rid of the “flat tax” regardless of what euphonious name you want to give it. It is unfair. It was nothing but an opaque tax cut for those with high incomes, and a tax INCREASE for those with low incomes. As an example, I have daughter who is a student earning about $18,000 per year. The change from graduated to flat taxes increased her tax liability by nearly $900 per year. My salary is about $75K, but my taxes stayed the same. Sen. Waddoups, can you explain to me how that can be characterized as fair taxation?

  2. […] if we did nothing more than use last year’s budget for next year, we would be $312.0 M short or a 7% cut. Even using all the new revenue, we would be just under $100.0 M short of solving the structural […]

  3. […] base budget is a starting point, not a final destination. Don’t panic.  If you’re new, here’s a tutorial. When it’s passed, we can start to focus on […]

  4. […] now you understand the process.  The base budget allocated 93% of next year’s state budget, which served as a foundation for the work of the session.  […]

  5. Good…I mean, Great Read!

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