STATE LEADERS ANNOUNCE BUDGET FORECAST FOR FY 2017
SALT LAKE CITY (Dec. 7, 2015) – New consensus revenue figures show Utah’s growing and diverse economy is producing additional revenue for the state. The consensus revenue forecast shows an additional $180 million of one-time funds and $380 million in new, ongoing unrestricted revenue for the upcoming FY 2017 budget.
“Utah’s economy continues to be the envy of the nation, and today’s budget numbers reflect that growth,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “Our continued commitment to fiscal conservatism has led to an encouraging budget projection for the upcoming fiscal year.”
“I am encouraged by the consensus figures,” said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. “Our economy is growing, and tax revenues are up six percent. That’s a positive thing for Utah. Although revenues are up, we need to carefully examine the entire budget to make sure we find the right fiscal balance. Many thanks to legislative staff and the Governor’s staff for the hours of work that have gone into this forecast.”
“Utah’s economy continues to grow”, said Speaker Greg Hughes. “These new revenue estimates will help us put together a budget that addresses the critical needs of the state. While they are encouraging, we must continue our careful and measured approach to the state budget.”
This forecast marks the first time executive and legislative economists completed a comprehensive review of the budget process that incorporates budget stress testing and trend analysis into the consensus revenue estimate. They agree that of the $380 million ongoing revenue growth, $53 million ($16 million General Fund and $37 million Education Fund) is associated with expansion in the business cycle and should be treated with caution when establishing long-term obligations.
# # #
Most recent state revenue estimates can be found by clicking here or on the docs below:
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PUBLISHED OP-ED
Acting charitably is the Utah way. Our willingness to extend a helping hand is only curbed by our respect for fiscal responsibility. Without the latter, the former is unsustainable. True leadership recognizes this delicate balance and governs accordingly. That is why I’m proud of the leadership demonstrated by Speaker Greg Hughes. That is also why I’m proud of the careful consideration my House colleagues displayed in rejecting Medicaid expansion.
I was, however, surprised to see The Salt Lake Tribune — an institution that clearly understands the importance of living within its means given its recent layoffs — question Speaker Hughes’ leadership for doing precisely what the newspaper has done in the interest of long-term viability.
Even more surprising was the Trib’s apparent refusal to provide a factual basis for its conclusions, instead opting to use its word quota to attack people’s character and motivations. For those who prefer civil, fact-based dialogue to demagoguery, here are the key reasons House Republicans believe Medicaid expansion, as proposed, is a bad deal for Utah.
Of those states that have availed themselves of the “free” federal funds, enrollment is 91 percent higher than projected on average, with some as high as 200 percent above projection. Higher-than-expected enrollment translates to a higher-than-expected tab for states. When the federal government scales back federal funding for expansion in 2017, the financial albatross that is Medicaid expansion will either lead to tax increases or jeopardize other programs like education. And with congressional efforts to scale back enhanced funding for Obamacare expansion, there’s no guarantee the federal government will honor its already insufficient commitment long term.
Economics aside, Medicaid expansion (in the forms presented) is bad social policy. Obamacare precludes a state from implementing a work requirement for the able-bodied recipients of Medicaid expansion.
We are the Beehive State for a reason. Utah values hard work and industry — without them, this desert never blossoms into the rose it is today. Incentivizing people not to work has not only proven to increase unemployment and decrease income among populations, but it’s also a disservice to the very people these types of programs are designed to help.
Instead of reaping the benefits of full-time employment and distancing themselves from dependency, those who are able-bodied are further engulfed in a cycle of government dependency that often spans generations.
Of course, there are people that are genuinely in need. We have and will continue to ensure society’s most vulnerable are reasonably provided for. Paradoxically, however, the greatest threat to those who currently receive and most need government assistance is Medicaid expansion. Trying to do too much for too many people — without a reliable funding source — is the best way to ensure little to no healthcare for all.
Judging by its editorial, it seems the Trib’s definition of leadership is penning a fact-challenged editorial that recklessly tosses around words like “corrupt” and “bribe,” yet fails to offer substantive alternative solutions.
Utah’s House Republican’s brand of leadership, on the other hand, is adequately considering not only the short-term benefit of Medicaid expansion, but also the long-term ramifications of adopting an unsustainable model that could potentially create a bigger problem than the one it originally sought to solve.
I, for one, certainly prefer the latter type of leadership.
Brad Wilson is the House Majority Assistant Whip representing House District 15 in Davis County.
“I am disappointed to learn that Representative Miller has been charged with a crime. Although these actions pre-date his arrival to the Legislature, as elected officials it is our job to be accountable for our actions and respect the integrity of the institution for which we’ve been elected. Representative Miller has made it clear to me that he is cooperating with the proper officials and taking responsibility for his actions. I respect his decision and accept his resignation. Please remember that he has a family and respect their privacy during this difficult time.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2015
STATE LEADERS ANNOUNCE FRAMEWORK FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah State leaders announced today that they have found consensus around a conceptual framework for Medicaid Expansion.
The group has continued meeting since the close of the 2015 General Legislative Session to find a resolution to the ‘coverage gap’ created by Obamacare. The key principles they are working to address include coverage for those most in need, data accuracy regarding assumptions and projections, sustainability and protecting other critical areas of our state budget.
The framework of this proposal provides coverage for a population up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level utilizing the greatest return of Utah taxpayer dollars through the ACA. It protects the State from cost overruns through a formulaic funding model allowing providers and benefactors of Medicaid dollars to pay their share, and is sustainable for many years to follow.
Speaker of the House Greg Hughes said, “It is important that we develop a solution that is in the best interest of all Utahns. If we can provide health coverage for those most in need while protecting other critical areas of our state budget, like public education, I believe we will have a model for other states to follow.”
“None of this process has been easy,” said Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, “but the negotiations have been professional and pleasant. This agreement holds out hope that Utah’s compassion can harmonize with her common sense and be fiscally sustainable over the long term.”
Gov. Gary R. Herbert said, “I appreciate the process we have engaged in with House and Senate leaders in finding compromise on this important issue. There is still work to be done, but I believe we now have a framework in place that will provide care for Utahns most in need while being responsible with limited taxpayer funds.”
The group will meet with stakeholders and policy makers in the coming weeks. Once a formal draft is produced, they will identify specific dates for public hearings through legislative committees and a special legislative session.
# # #
I’m saddened to hear of the tragic passing of Mark Openshaw and members of his family. As a member of Utah’s State Board of Education, Mark was a champion of education reform and bringing our schools into the 21st Century through technology and innovation.
His work has helped improve Utah’s schools and will have a lasting impact on the education of our school children.
Mark has been an invaluable leader but more importantly he has been a close colleague and my friend. I will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those close to the Openshaw family during this sad and difficult time.
In a decision with potentially sweeping implications for Utah and other western states, the U.S. House Armed Services Committee voted yesterday to delay a listing decision for greater sage grouse for at least 10 years, allowing Utah’s management plan to continue to demonstrate adequate conservation for the species.
The U.S. House committee concurred with a recent Army report suggesting that efforts to encumber the greater sage grouse habitat under the federal Endangered Species Act could hurt training operations at numerous U.S. military facilities throughout the West.
The state of Utah has also argued to federal officials that additional regulation regarding the species potentially interferes with the interests of ranchers, energy producers and miners, hampers tourism and stymies needed economic development, particularly in the southern regions of the state. Millions of acres of Utah lands could be blocked from development or use by a decision to place the bird on the endangered list.
Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes said he’s “elated” with the decision, as should be all Utahns, crediting Utah’s congressional delegation, particularly Rep. Rob Bishop, who serves on that House committee and his staff, as well as Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, as being instrumental in the outcome.
“We have been up against a deadline for potential listing and this gives us time to continue to do what Utah and other western states are doing very well, which is to improve the habitat for the greater sage grouse,” Hughes said.
Utah Rep. Michael Noel, who represents multiple counties in southern Utah that would be affected by the greater sage grouse listing, said he was thrilled to hear of the action taken by the House Armed Services Committee. He thanked the Utah House and Senate leadership, Gov. Gary Herbert and his colleagues for their foresight in funding the state’s fight against the listing in congress.
“Utah is leading out in the western states on this issue and has made the health of the bird a priority,” Noel said. “As a result of the millions of dollars applied toward the species, Utah’s greater sage grouse populations are increasing in numbers while habitat is being improved for the long term survival of the species.
“Our Division of Wildlife Resources Director Greg Sheehan and our Division of Natural Resources Director Mike Styler, with support from the Utah Legislature, have created a scientifically based plan build on decades of research and on the ground habitat restoration work,” Noel said.