Utah lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss plans to cut up to $1.3 billion out of the state’s budget for the next fiscal year.
The cuts are aimed at making up for falling tax revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic.
To prepare for the worst case scenario, lawmakers are asking budget subcommittees to remove any new funding the Legislature approved in its general session this year, and to cut their existing budget by 10%. The subcommittees will also come back with plans to cut it by 2% and 5%.
“These are difficult times,” said Executive Appropriations Chair Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton. “This isn't a simple answer to a very difficult question. This is tough.”
Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, was skeptical that cutting 10% of allbudgets is the best policy decision.
“Social services, I'm thinking, which is a committee I serve — that will definitely get into the bones or some of the programs that are critical to sustain families and people,” Escamilla said.
The Legislature’s budget estimates, however, do not account for a second wave of COVID-19, which public health officials say could happen this fall.
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson