SALT LAKE CITY – After days of high-stakes negotiations, House and Senate Republican leaders have struck a deal on the state budget.
It means that a lot of big ticket items, including air quality investments, suicide prevention programs and affordable housing initiatives will now be funded. It was a huge sigh of relief on Capitol Hill for a lot of programs that worried the legislature would end without any money for them.
"We will be sending back a bill that funds pretty much everything that the Senate asked for, but not all the ongoing items the Senate asked for. We’ll just be funding them one-time," said House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville.
That ensures that tax reform takes place in the Utah State Legislature and isn't just an empty promise. A bill to redo Utah's tax code, that included a controversial sales tax on services, imploded last week. Since then, legislative leaders and the governor have pledged to review the tax code.
"We're all committed to solve that problem," said Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton.
Lawmakers have complained that state revenues are evaporating, as Utah moves from a goods-based economy to a service-based one. State revenues fund everything from roads to education and healthcare.
The House announced a task force of 10 members from both the Senate and House will convene to look at modernizing the tax code. Ideas include raising the sales tax on food, a sales tax on services or other concepts. The task force will present a report in August.
Just over an hour after the deal was announced, the House passed the $19 billion budget. Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, tried to amend the budget to take $1.5 million for the Orrin Hatch Library to give to air quality. It was rejected.
The House then passed the budget unanimously. The Senate passed the budget a short time later.
Here's what is getting funded: