Lee introduces balanced budget amendment to Senate

By Stephanie Grimes | Posted - Jan 24th, 2013 @ 2:17pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced to the Senate on Tuesday a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

The amendment would put strict limits on the ability of Congress to run deficits and add to the national debt.

"Washington's insatiable need to borrow and spend has put off difficult decisions and threatened the prosperity of future generations. It is unconscionable and immoral," Lee said. "We have an obligation to correct course and put the country on a responsible path to fiscal sustainability.

"Families, businesses, and state and local governments are all expected to live within their means," he continued. "The federal government should do the same."

The proposed amendment would require Congress to spend no more than it takes in during any fiscal year and would limit spending to 18 percent of the gross national product. Additionally, Congress would be able to run a deficit, raise taxes or increase the debt limit only if the move were agreed to by two-thirds of both the House and Senate.

Lee authored two previous versions of the amendment that failed to pass.

Bishop reacts to No Budget, No Pay Act

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, voted in support of the No Budget, No Pay Act the House of Representatives passed on Wednesday.

"Across this nation, it's universally understood that there are consequences for failing to perform the basic functions of your job," he said. "This same level of accountability should apply to Members of Congress."

The act would extend the government's borrowing authority by suspending enforcement of the debt ceiling through May 19. It would also halt pay to members of Congress in the event a budget is not passed by April 15.

"It is my hope that the deadlines included in the legislation will help incentivize efforts to not only pass a budget, but also address some of the gravest issues facing our nation, including reforming Washington spending, tacking the trillion-dollar deficit and stopping the sequestration cuts to defense," Bishop said.

Poll: majority of Utahns favor tax increase for public schools

A new poll by Dan Jones and Associates shows a majority of Utahns favor a tax increase for public schools.

The poll, released Wednesday, found 55 percent of those surveyed were in favor of raising taxes if they knew the increase would go to public schools. Of those surveyed, 43 percent said they would oppose the idea.

Utah spends the least per pupil in the nation, at $6,064 in 2010. That is more than $1,000 below the next lowest spender, Idaho.

House passes bill to curb federal property spending

A bill reintroduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., would cut spending on excess federal property.

"The government can no longer foot the bill for vacant buildings and unneeded or underutilized properties," Chaffetz said. "Government property that serves no public good should be immediately returned to private ownership."

The federal government is the largest property holder in the U.S., with more than 900,000 buildings and structures. According to a Congressional report, in 2010 the U.S. government identified 77,000 buildings as being underutilized or not utilized, at a cost of $1.67 billion.

The bill, if passed, would create a five-year pilot program that would dispose of the most profitable properties by removing red tape and creating an online database for all property owned by the federal government.

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