Utah’s Innovative Forecasting Models Help It Prepare for Future Downturns

To assess how well its finances would withstand the next recession, Utah uses the same “stress tests” the Federal Reserve applies to large banking firms.

Reports Route Fifty:

Utah’s legislative session kicks off next Monday. In the weeks that follow, lawmakers will work to hammer out how they’d like the budget to look in fiscal year 2017, which begins on July 1.

The stress-testing results are expected to inform that work.

“I do think it will be useful,” said Rep. Brad R. Wilson, a Republican who hails from Kaysville, a community north of Salt Lake City. 

“We’ve got a lot of different ways to get line of sight to how healthy the state is,” he continued. “Stress testing is another way.”

Wilson sits on the Executive Appropriations Committee, which includes lawmakers from both the House and Senate.

In the course of the budgeting process, eight appropriations subcommittees that focus on specific topics, like natural resources and social services, report back to the panel with recommendations about how to allocate the state’s funds.

Legislative fiscal staff, late last year, presented the Executive Appropriations Committee with information about the stress testing results. State Sen. Lyle W. Hillyard, a Republican who represents a district that includes the city of Logan is the committee’s chairman.

“I think the stress test brings reality to you, so you don’t immediately ask: ‘How much new money do we have this year to spend?’ But more importantly: How are we going to spend it? What do we need to be concerned about?” Hillyard said during a phone interview last week.