While many Utah and across the globe open bright and shiny new items on Christmas morning, the Utah Taxpayers Association believes that the gifts in the 2025 fiscal year budget being unwrapped during the upcoming Legislative session should be the gift that nobody wants, but is the gift that everybody could always use – socks and underwear.
In fact, as one Legislator suggested, not only should it be socks and underwear, it should be used socks and underwear.
As we wrote about a few months ago in our article “Time To Cool the Jets – Cut the State Budget”, the days of large budget surpluses and ballooning tax revenues are over and the steep rise in government spending over the last few years must come to an end. As we all know, taxes are a function of government spending. If upward pressure on more government spending is not pulled back in a meaningful way, upward pressure on taxes could enter the conversation sooner than most would be comfortable with. The state’s ongoing budget was $7.5 billion in FY 2019 and since then has grown to $11.1 billion in FY 2024. If Legislators chose to reduce the budget by 10% across the board in FY 2025, ongoing spending would still be $1 billion higher than it was just two years ago.
With the ongoing budget being voted on only a couple of weeks into the session, the work of the various appropriations subcommittees becomes vitally important. There are seven appropriations subcommittees that deal with different areas of the budget and one Executive Appropriations Committee that oversees them all and approves the final budget before it is voted on by the House and Senate at the end of the session. Every Legislator is assigned to an appropriations committee. The committees are:
Business, Economic Development, and Labor Subcommittee
Chaired by Senator Mike McKell and Representative Christine Watkins
Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Subcommittee
Chaired by Senator Derrin Owens and Representative Jeff Burton
Higher Education Subcommittee
Chaired by Senator Keith Grover and Representative Karen Peterson
Infrastructure and General Government Subcommittee
Chaired by Senator Chris Wilson and Representative Keven Stratton
Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Subcommittee
Chaired by Senator Scott Sandall and Representative Stewart Barlow
Public Education Subcommittee
Chaired by Senator Lincoln Fillmore and Representative Susan Pulsipher
Social Services Subcommittee
Chaired by Senator Heidi Balderree and Representative Ray Ward
Executive Appropriations Committee
Chaired by Senator Jerry Stevenson and Representative Val Peterson
The chairs of the subcommittee will steer the hearings in the first two weeks of the session as they hear presentations on various issues and spending requests. A scrutinous look into the ongoing budgets of state agencies and programs are vital to the interests of taxpayers in order to prevent wasteful and redundant spending. Once the hearings wrap up, the committees and chairs prioritize spending requests and forward those on to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC). As the session draws to a close, the EAC releases the final budget and that is voted on by the House and Senate before Sine Die.
The Utah Taxpayers Association will continue to urge Legislators to say no to the endless requests for one-time spending and implement cuts to the ongoing budget. Making prudent cuts to spending while maintaining funding for important programs and needs is the right course for taxpayers and your Taxpayers Association will always advocate for that.