State has $581 million surplus to use
By Ralph Okerlund
Senator District 24
Mar. 1, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have wrapped up week five of the Legislative Session, and we now only have nine working days left until we adjourn till next year.
We have officially passed a total 171 bills, but by the time we finish the session we will pass somewhere around a total of 500 bills.
I invite you to watch our floor debates, tune in to our committee meetings and reach out to me with your thoughts on the bills over the next two weeks.
Here are a few of the highlights from week five:
Resolution in support of a new national park in Escalante
This week we debated the resolution (SCR8 at https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/SCR008.html) declaring Utah’s support for Congressman Chris Stewart’s effort to create the Escalante Canyons National Park and Preserve and the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits and Escalante Canyons national monuments. This bill passed the Senate and will be heard in the House next.
The executive appropriation committee announced this week that updated revenue estimates show a surplus of $581 million this year, which is almost twice as much as was previously expected.
Some of this comes from tax revenues and some comes from budget management.
Our budget surplus is nearly $80 million more than we anticipated.
As I consider the budget and appropriations, Snow College has been on the forefront of my mind. This great institution is a boon to our region, and we are trying to support its mission and growth as they expand concurrent education to provide kids with education online.
The next step in the budgeting process is for the Senate and House majority and minority caucuses to create their own proposals. We will then compare budgets, consider input from the governor and ultimately prepare a final budget to pass on the House and Senate floor.
This topic appeared in the Deseret News (https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900010994/utah-lawmakers-now-have-dollar563-million-in-additional-revenues.html) and in Utah Policy (http://utahpolicy.com/index.php/features/today-at-utah-policy/15890-utah-s-budget-surplus-surges-to-more-than-half-a-billion-dollars).
Resolution honoring Sen. Orrin Hatch
Sen. Orrin Hatch has served the State of Utah for over 40 years as a U.S. senator. Now that he is retiring from the U.S. Senate, our State Senate passed a resolution, SCR 13 (https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/SCR013.html), to honor Sen. Hatch for the good work he has done on behalf of our state.
As part of the resolution, Feb. 21 of this year was designated as Orrin Hatch Day.
This resolution gave us the chance to visit with Sen. Hatch and honor him for his many years of service to our state. You can listen to the floor discussion and Sen. Hatch’s remarks (https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/SCR013.html).
This topic appeared in the Deseret News (https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900010960/utah-lawmakers-declare-orrin-hatch-day-share-stories-honoring-retiring-senator.html).
What do you think?
Thanks for following me along in my legislative journey. I hope to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill. Likewise, please keep in touch. I’d love to hear your insights and opinions. I can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation—and thanks for paying attention.
Until next time,
Ralph Okerlund Utah State Senate, District 24