Roughly $850 Million in Budget Cuts Approved By Utah Legislative Committee | KUER 90.1

Roughly $850 Million in Budget Cuts Approved By Utah Legislative Committee

Jun 17, 2020

The Utah Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee approved $850 million Wednesday in total budget cuts for the next fiscal year. 

The cuts come as tax revenues have plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Almost all new funding approved during this year’s legislative session has been removed. Other cuts include some capital improvement projects and 2.5% of state money that goes to colleges and universities.

Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, said lawmakers were able to move funds around and increase the public education budget by 1.3%. 

“The districts have the flexibility that ... if they feel some of these programs are necessary that have been cut, they can still offer those programs,” Schultz said.

Lawmakers also voted to completely eliminate funding for Banjo, a controversial police surveillance software. The Attorney General’s office announced in April it would suspend use of the technology, after a report revealed the company’s founder was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, unsuccessfully made a motion to use $20,000 of the nearly $1.4 million cut from Banjo toward re-funding air quality monitoring. 

“COVID-19 related issues to air quality and the ability to breathe and lung related medical conditions are very high,” Escamilla said.

Republican representatives who voted against the motion said they want to save that money for anticipated future revenue loss later this year.