Joint resolution for a Balanced Budget
Utah is now the 26th state to pass a resolution supporting the idea of adding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require a balanced budget. There’s been a lot of talk about federal debt and federal spending. In the Consitution, there are many checks and balances and Article V provides a mechanism for the states to request an action reasserting the sovereign right of the states. This resolution states that if 2/3 of several states under the provisions of Article V calls for a Convention of the States. It specifies that Congress lives within their means. Here is the resolution – HJR 007.
We’re entering the home stretch for the 2015 session. As of noon last Friday there were 133 Senate bills in the House committees and 192 House bills in Senate committees. In all the House had introduced 467 total bills and the Senate has introduced 301 into the process.
So far, 99 House bills and 73 Senate bills have been passed and are in possession of the Governor.
The other event that drew a lot of attention on Wednesday was the hearing in the House Business and Labor committee regarding Medicaid expansion. The Committee had a long debate on both the House version and the Senate version of how to implement healthcare coverage. Some members of the committee said that the reason they could not vote for the Senate’s plan was because the majority of their constituents did not agree with it. Other members of the committee said they thought that although the Healthy Utah plan was untenable because it was only a pilot program. The House passed HB 446, which has been dubbed “Utah Cares.” This bill will come to Senate floor for us to discuss next week. “Healthy Utah” is SB164, and was passed in the Senate. Here is a link to the recording of the committee meeting where the debates on both bills took place.
Transportation needs and the question of how to fund it continue to be at the forefront of discussions. Transportation is more than just getting from here to there, it is about getting from here to there safely and efficiently. We cannot safely ignore the maintenance of our roads and at this point it appears that we are facing an $11 billion deficit by 2040. No one wants a tax increase but in this case there may be no choice. We have several scenarios on the table that we are considering as to what is the best way to manage the problem and plan for the future. One would add a 6 cents per gallon that would increase incrementally until it reaches a dime. Another would calculate the average wholesale price of fuel from the previous year and multiple that by the percentage-based tax set by the legislature, which then converts that to the cents-per-gallon for collection purpose. The Deseret News published an article identifying the need for an infrastructure plan.
UDOT is currently seeking input on the 2040 Long Range plan. Please take a moment to review their proposal and provide comment.
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