Utah lawmakers tout $500 million-plus budget surplus for coming year

Stock image | Compiled image courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Utah lawmakers are estimating next year’s state budget will be running a surplus of over $500 million.

The Legislature Wednesday released the revenue estimates showing an ongoing general and education funds surplus of $453 million and a one-time use funds of $128 million, making for a total of $581 million in new revenue overall.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert at the Washington County GOP Lincoln Day Breakfast, St. George, Utah, Feb. 17, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

While the above estimates come from the House and Senate, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget puts surplus estimates at around $508 million. While estimates on the increase in ongoing funds is the same as the Legislature’s estimate, the governor’s office places new funds for one-time projects at $184 million.

While there is a difference in the estimates, Anna Lehnardt, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, Told St. George News Thursday there is consensus on the numbers between the governor and Legislature.

Prior to Wednesday’s estimates, revenue was estimated at $382 million in December 2017.

“The revised revenue numbers … show the strength of Utah’s economy,” Gov. Gary Herbert said. “This consistent growth provides us with the opportunity to make much-needed investments in education, an issue that is a top priority for both my administration and Utah’s Legislature.”

The estimates for education and general fund spending are up $126 million from December’s estimates, with one-time monies up $83 million.

The revised revenue numbers demonstrate that Utah is thriving due to our strong economy,” House Speaker Greg Hughes said. “As we finalize the budget, the Utah Legislature will maintain our long-standing commitment to education funding while remaining fiscally conservative.”

The new estimates do not include the $25-$80 million in new ongoing revenue that is expected from the federal tax reform passed last year.

In January, the Legislature designated a portion of the new revenue to:

  • Repay $85 million to the rainy-day funds.
  • Finance $67 million in buildings that were approved last year.
  • Fix an $18 million matter with firefighter retirement.
  • Pay $3 million for the statutory Tourism Marketing Performance Fund increment.

“A reliable state budget depends on a reasonable, conservative budget forecast,” Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said. “These consensus figures are encouraging and reflect our growing economy, but we must continue to be conservative when finalizing the entire budget to ensure we find the correct fiscal balance.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • utahdiablo February 22, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Funny that this story doesn’t mention that part of this surplus will go to the salaries of the state lawmakers ( bonus ), I heard it with my own ears on the CBS 2 newscast yesterday after they announced this

  • hiker75 February 25, 2018 at 9:43 am

    There should be a surplus. Did the increase in gas tax we all have to pay help?

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