Budget Crunch Looms for Organizers of National Conference

Budget Crunch Looms for Organizers of National Conference

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Camp stools are out, and Mormon Tabernacle Choir CDs are in.

That was just one of the decisions made Monday as the hosts of the 2004 National Conference of State Legislatures try to make up a $700,000 budget shortfall for the July conference.

Just a little over $500,000 of the $1.2 million budgeted for the event has been raised, prompting legislators to question where they will get the remainder of the funds, and what they will do if they don't.

Sen. Carlene Walker, R- Cottonwood Heights, said it would come down to obtaining a loan from the national group or cutting portions of planned programs.

"I hope our fund-raisers can pull it out," said Rep. Ty McCartney, D-Salt Lake City, about the budget concerns. "If they don't, I have a feeling that there will be some things cut."

One option discussed was scrapping the conference's opening ceremony, to be held at the state Capitol. If held, the event would give Utah the distinction of being the only NCSL host city to hold a social without alcohol.

Lawmakers also opted to give out-of-state legislators a $6 CD of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as a welcoming gift instead of a $15 camp stool.

McCartney said a decision should be made Wednesday during interim committee meetings about what lawmakers would do about funding the event.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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