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Day 11- Utah Senate votes to weaken spending limit

Yesterday, the Utah Senate voted to weaken Utah’s already weak state spending limit. SB90 (Hickman) exempts the entire higher education budget (except the Board of Regents budget) from the state spending limit. Currently, higher education capital expenditures are exempt from the spending limit, but higher education operations are not.

Utah’s spending limit is already very weak. In the FY07 pre-supplemental budget, only 43.7% of general and education funds (including GF earmarks) was subject to the spending limit. If higher education operations had been exempt in the FY07 budget, only 30% of the general/earmarked/education fund would have been subject to the spending limit.

So how did this happen? During discussion in the Senate Education Committee and on the floor of the Senate, SB90 was described as a bill that appropriates $10.5 million to higher education. The bill’s main point – exempting higher education operations expenditures from the state budget – was never mentioned.

Disclaimer: Like all legislation, SB90 may eventually be modified, meaning that the above points may no longer be 100% relevant.

Those darn senators!

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