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Utah Budget Surplus Tops Half A Billion Dollars

Photo of the Utah state capitol dome
Austen Diamond

The state will have more than half a billion dollars extra to spend this year. Lawmakers learned Wednesday afternoon that they’ll have a large budget surplus of more than $563 million.

That includes $453 million in ongoing revenue and $128 million in one-time funds.

And that’s not including expected impact from federal tax reform. State budget makers estimate a windfall of up to $80 million from the tax plan passed by Congress in December.

Lawmakers now have to decide if they’ll keep that money and add it to their own surplus, or pass it on to Utah taxpayers.

“Now we can get serious about whatever we’re going to do with tax adjustments and tax cuts,” said Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, who is House chair of the executive appropriations committee.

There are a few proposals floating around to lower the state’s individual and corporate tax rates from 5 percent to 4.95 percent. Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, has a bill to lower rates further, to 4.925 percent.

Lawmakers may also want to give teachers a pay raise of $1,000 or more.

But House and Senate leaders acknowledge they’re not quite on the same page for some of the proposals, and they only have two weeks to decide how to spend the money before the legislative session ends on March 9.

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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