No one on Utah’s Capitol Hill is exactly sure how the federal tax overhaul passed by Congressional Republicans last year will affect Utah’s budget, but it’s starting to look like it may boost Utah’s coffers a bit.
Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, Senate chair of the powerful Executive Appropriations Committee, says the current estimates show the state should see a windfall from the tax reform due to higher tax collections this year, somewhere between $25 and $80 million.
“It’s a big spread until we get this sorted down tighter,” said Stevenson on Monday morning before the 2018 Legislature officially got underway.
But, if you’re expecting a spending spree, Stevenson urges lawmakers to pump the breaks before they get too far down that road.
“Part of what the legislature did a little different than the governor’s proposal is we put $85 million back into the rainy day fund out of our December revenue increases. I think Governor Herbert also paid off those buildings that we funded last year in his budget proposal. When you look at those two numbers together, you start the year with $150 million plus dollars,” said Stevenson.
Stevenson says the state is starting to see the beginning of an inflationary trend in Utah’s economy, which will put pressure on lawmakers as they decide what to spend money on next year.
“We know we are going to have state employees to take care of because of that inflation,” says Stevenson. “We know we’re also going to get a lot of pressure from education about funding. It always seems like we throw enough twigs in the stream that we can put a raft together that will be equal.”