Utah Legislators will have a lot of new money to play with next year, but most of those dollars are already spoken for.
The new consensus revenue figures show that legislators will have about $560 million new dollars to spend during the coming legislative session. But most of that money comes from an increase in the amount of state income tax collected and is required to go toward education. That leaves very little money for anything else, such as the justice reform initiative, the new prison, and covering the cost of the growth of Medicaid. Executive Appropriations co-chair Senator Lyle Hillyard says finding money to fund those will be a challenge.
“What we will have to do is go back to each of the committees and say, what can you find? How can you help us? And hopefully they’ll find some,” he says.
Jonathan Ball is a legislative fiscal analyst. He says one of the reasons why the general fund isn’t seeing the same increase in revenue as the education fund, is because the state continues to lose sales tax money on internet purchases.
“$190 million dollars’ worth of potential general fund collections that we’re not collecting because of online sales,” he says.
He also says that while the economic outlook continues to be positive, $53 million of the growth can be attributed to normal swings in the business cycle and legislators should be careful about using that money for long-term projects.