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Budget Battles Ahead In 2016 Legislature

Utah House of Representatives

Starting Monday, officials in the state legislature have seven weeks to draft and pass Utah’s budget for 2017. For House Republicans, creating a well-balanced budget will take center stage while the Democrats plan to work on passing legislation related to family income.

House Majority Leader Rep. Jim Dunnigan, a Taylorsville Republican, said that revenue shortfalls will play a role in balancing the competing demands on the state treasury.

“One of the biggest things we need to do is a budget. We have seven weeks to put together a $14 billion budget. There are many demands that merit many needs. We don’t have as much money as we did last year; we had some really nice surpluses last year,” Dunnigan said. “We have some surpluses this year. They’re primarily in the education fund. One of the biggest challenges we’ll have is balancing all the requests, the asks and the needs to have the state government funded fairly and properly for the next year.”

Salt Lake City Democratic Rep. Brian King, who is the House Minority Leader, said that his party will look to introduce bills regarding take-home pay of working Utahns.

“Certainly, the budget is an important thing and that reflects our priorities. One of the things that we’re focusing on as a caucus is to address some needs of Utah’s working families,” King said. “We have caucus members that will be running bills relating to the living wage, we’ll also be sponsoring bills relating to equal pay for equal work and we’ll also be running a bill relating to paid family leave.”

Both Dunnigan and King support addressing the problem of homelessness in the state as a legislative priority.