I spent the day at the Capitol with my legislative colleagues and fleshed out some of the issues that will be addressed during the Legislative Session starting in January. Here are some interesting points we discussed and some things you can look forward to:
$313 Millions Budget Deficit - The state budget still has a revenue shortage of $313 million that needs to be addressed. Under current tax rates, we will need to cut another 7% from the budget. Look for more difficult belt tightening.
Immigration - We were presented with the 8th revision of a much anticipated immigration bill. Apparently, the bill has been made bullet proof to constitutional challenges.
No New Taxes - We voted as a Republican Caucus today to not raise taxes this year to meet the budget deficit. This is good news for everyone. Instead, look for more paired down state programs this year.
Federalism Issues - The issues surrounding Federalism seem to be gaining traction on the Hill. One legislator is investigating the possibility of Federal Tax Escrow accounts while another is proposing reawakening the Constitutional Defense Council.
Deferred Building Maintenance - To trim the budget and live within our means, the legislature has taken money from funds used to maintain buildings. We have deferred this maintenance for several years now and we were warned that this can only happen a couple more years. We will be forced to increase the maintenance budgets again or otherwise risk more extensive damage to state owned buildings.
Rejection of Governor Herbert's Tax Acceleration - Governor Herbert's budget called for one time acceleration of tax revenue collection by mandating that businesses pay state taxes quarterly rather than yearly. This accounting "gimmick" would add about $110 Million to this year's budget by pulling revenues from the future. It's a one time fix and also would add an additional $10 Million in collection burden to the business community. We saw that as an undue tax increase and committed to not support that measure.