Budgeting Bridge: Navigating Deep Numbers

Beam us into the wonderful world of state budget!

Utah’s budgeting process may seem overwhelming, and that’s because it is. With between $12-14 billion to appropriate, that’s no small feat. Hopefully this quick guide will help you better understand what it is we do, and how we do it.

Before we jump in, this year we made a few changes to the timeline of how Utah’s budget is formulated. Rather than work through it in the latter part of the session, we’re jumping right in at the very beginning. No traditional standing committees, just appropriations subcommittees.

So, what of these subcommittees? Utah’s appropriation process involves every legislator, in both the House and Senate. Each member sits on at least one of eight Joint Appropriats Subcommittees. These subcommittees are as follows:

Each subcommittee is assigned a different jurisdiction. Let’s take Natural Resources AS, as an example.

Natural Resources will review such state departments and offices as the Division of Natural Resources, Division of Water Rights, and and the Department of Agriculture and Food.

Each of these state entities will then provide presentations to the NRAS, showing where and how money was spent, and where additional funds may need to be allocated.

Using the Division of Natural Resources as an example, they appeared before the NRAC on the 28th. This specific report, provided by DNR, shows funding giving to the DNR, as well as programs that the DNR spent the money on.

This process continues on for each entity assigned to a particular subcommittee. The ACs will meet during the first half of the legislative session.

After the ACs have heard their reports, they will be provide a detailed report and recommend where money should be allocated to the Exective Appropriations Committee (EAC). The EAC coordinates subcommittee activities and begins the difficult work of narrowing down funding requests based on priorities, matching it up with available revenue, and drafting a final budget for the new fiscal year. This process is done with the assistance of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst’s Office.

On that note, the LFA created a series of videos to help you navigate the budget process. They’re not Star Trek, but filled with relevant, applicable information, and not how to seduce green women.

The LFA writes the bills, which show the Legislature’s priorities set in dollars.

Finally, the bill of bills. This takes all the fiscal bills passed over the course of the session, that are prioritized by the individual bodies. This is completed on the last day. Pressure.

Live long and prosper, yo!