Lawmakers don’t prioritize funding request for Hatch center

Utah Capitol 07

A legislative appropriations committee rejected a $2 million request to help build a proposed center honoring former Sen. Orrin Hatch. It’s now up to legislative leaders to approve the funding if it’s granted at all.

Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, placed the request on the agenda of the Joint Business Economic Development and Labor Appropriations Committee last week. That funding request was not included on the final list of priority funding requests approved by the committee on Tuesday afternoon.

The planned Hatch Center, which would be a joint venture with the University of Utah, is being pitched as a repository for Hatch’s papers from his 42 years in the Senate. The center will also feature a replica of his office. Center backers are reportedly aiming to raise about $40 million to construct the facility.

The requested appropriation for the Hatch center is not dead just yet. The Executive Appropriations Committee could consider a separate appropriations request, or they might add it back to the budget when they approve the priority funding list. That is currently on the committee’s Thursday agenda.

The Economic Development Appropriations Committee considered more than $89 million in one-time funding requests but prioritized just over $29 million for this year. Not all of the priority funding requests will ultimately be included in next year’s budget.

The committee listed 50 one-time requests in all, including $15 million for the Utah Sports Commission, $1.5 million for the Tracy Aviary’s Jordan River Nature Center, $1.25 million for the “Impact Utah USU” program, and $750,000 for an “Interpretive Center” about the Bear River Massacre.

Hatch can donate leftover campaign funds to non-profit organizations like the Hatch Foundation. The Hill reports Hatch has approximately $900,000 remaining in his campaign account, which could potentially go to the construction of the center.