SALT LAKE CITY -- A group of lawmakers are looking to sound the alarm on Utah's dependency on money from the federal government.
Joined by supporters from the Utah Association of CPAs and the state auditor on Tuesday, Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, and Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, unveiled a slate of seven bills aimed at prepping Utah to be less dependent on federal money in the future.
Ivory explained that as the federal government continues to look at ways to cut the deficit, it could mean less federal money being funneled into the state. He said Utah needed to be prepared for the various fiscal situations it could face if and when the federal government makes cuts to dollars sent to the state.
"We simply have to act," Ivory said.
Ivory is a chief sponsor of two pieces of legislation preparing for what seems to be an inevitable financial shift in federal dollars to the state. Ivory's first proposal establishes a rainy day funding criteria to account for the risk of a reduction in the amount or value of federal funds. His second piece of legislation extends a program that requires state departments to make contingency plans in case a reduction in federal funds does occur.
Also included in the package of bills is a proposal that would create a commission to assess the risk of a reduction in the amount of federal funds in the state. The commission would be comprised of lawmakers, representatives from the governor's office and Utah citizens. The group would make recommendations to the Legislature on what it can do to best prepare for a cut in federal money.
"This group will be able to formulate our plan on how we will prepare for any kind of reduction in federal funds," said Henderson, sponsor of the legislation to create the commission.
Henderson also announced a resolution that she will be pushing that is not a part of this package of bills but is an example of what she thinks the commission could recommend. That resolution would call upon the feds to reduce the national gas tax so the state can raise its gas tax but keep the price at the pump the same. That would provide more money to the state as all of the money raised from the tax would stay in Utah instead of being dispersed through the federal government.
"Little solutions like that are things that I hope this commission can come up with," she said.
The lawmakers didn't stop at the state level in calling for Utahns to become less dependent on federal money. Ivory explained that those who support the cause should go to their city councils, county commissions and local school boards to ask them to create plans for more financial independence from the federal government. He explained that the shift will take work on every level for Utah to be successful in being prepared for a potential major financial cut.