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.