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State lawmakers have extra $484M to spend in coming year

State lawmakers have extra $484M to spend in coming year

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers will have about $484 million extra to spend when they meet in general session next month.

Consensus revenue figures released by the Legislature and the governor's office Tuesday show an estimated $382.4 million in new ongoing revenue and $101.6 million in new one-time money available for the state general and education funds.

The revenue estimates come as Gov. Gary Herbert readies his 2018-19 budget proposal for release Wednesday at Davis Technical College in Kaysville. Herbert is expected to again make public education a top priority, as well as focus on rural job creation and improving air quality.

"Utah's continued economic growth provides the revenues that will allow the state of Utah to make critical investments in our long-term future, including education," Herbert said.

The projected new revenue exceeds the $1 million one-time and $283 million ongoing funds available at this time last year. The current state budget is $16.2 billion. The new budget year starts July 1.

"These consensus figures are encouraging and good news for our economy, but we must continue to be conservative when examining the entire budget to ensure we find the correct fiscal balance," said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy.

A reliable state budget depends on a reasonable, conservative forecast, he said.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said the revenue forecast shows that Utah's economy continues to thrive.

"While these numbers are encouraging, we must continue our measured approach as we put together the state budget that addresses critical needs of this great state," he said.

The Office of Legislative Fiscal Analyst presented the consensus forecast to the Executive Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. It recommended using $67 million ongoing and $85 million one-time from the new revenue to pay existing obligations.

Dennis Romboy

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