Increased polarization in Congress is concerning some Utah lawmakers about a possible federal shutdown.
Congress is now in August recess and has not yet passed a budget for the next fiscal year. That task, along with raising the debt ceiling, has some Utah lawmakers worried about an impending government shutdown.
“You’ve got a lot of political maneuvering that seems to get more and more polarized that creates a climate where absolutely mission-critical issues like budgeting and funding that flows to the states become political footballs,” said Republican State Representative Ken Ivory, a member of the legislature’s Federal Funds Commission which makes emergency plans in the case of a federal shutdown.
Utah currently receives nearly $ 4.5 billion from the Federal Government, which represents 27 percent of the state’s yearly budget.
“Federal funds comprise the single largest source of revenue to the state of Utah, larger than income tax, property tax,” Ivory said.
When Congress fails to pass a budget, states receive less money to fund public services and education. The 2013 shutdown closed Utah’s National Parks and Monuments which cost the state nearly a million dollars as well as impacting local communities.
To avoid this, the Federal Funds commission approved a risk assessment to be carried out by state government employees.
“I made a motion, and the motion passed unanimously, to instruct staff -- both legislative and executive -- to assess the risk and look at our resources and planning options as we move towards the end of September,” Ivory said.
The Federal Funds Commission is arranging to meet again in September to review the staff’s findings and to pressure Utah’s Congress Members to act during the budget process.