SALT LAKE CITY — Utah voters appear to have turned down an amendment to the state's constitution that would have increased how much lawmakers can spend during an emergency legislative session.
With 53 percent of precincts reported as of early Monday morning, Constitutional Amendment A had 37 percent of the votes in favor of it, and 63 percent voting against it.
"Currently, the legislature has the ability to call itself into special session in the event of an emergency or some other big event to deal with urgent matters," House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said in an interview with FOX 13 News last month. "Constitutional Amendment A raises the cap in the amount of money the legislature can deal with in a special session they call."
Without the amendment, Utah's constitution sets the spending cap for a special session at 1% of the state's budget. The amendment would have raised it to 5%. An impartial analysis of the amendment prepared for voters said the most recent state budget is $27.7 billion. Under Amendment A, the legislature would be able to spend up to $1.3 billion. Without Amendment A, that amount would be $277 million.
The Utah Taxpayers Association, a watchdog group on tax policy, told FOX 13 News last month that it supported the amendment because it would have allowed the legislature to also make cuts in an emergency.
"This would be a taxpayer-friendly amendment in that they would give them more flexibility in a dire emergency to cut the budget more than allowed," said Rusty Cannon, the group's president.
But the Alliance for a Better Utah, a left-leaning public policy group, opposed the amendment.
"It’s unnecessary. They already have the ability to get into special session for this. They just have to work with the governor to do it. It’s that checks and balances in the constitution that we want to preserve and we don’t want to keep deteriorating," said Chase Thomas, ABU's executive director.