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Utah Legislature Could Cut Up To $112 Million In Social Service Programs

The Utah State Capitol.
Nicole Nixon
/
KUER
Utah lawmakers are fleshing out ways to reduce next year's budget in response to revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic. "

Things like Medicaid, mental health services and programs for people with disabilities could be impacted by cuts to Utah’s social services budget. 

The joint appropriations committee met virtually on Tuesday and fleshed out ways to reduce next year’s budget by 2%, 5% and 10%. The cuts come in response to revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, asked her colleagues to be careful not to approve items that could worsen the situation. 

“I’ve been looking at what’s presented, and there are certain pieces that would just be detrimental to the entire pandemic issue, based on public safety and public health,” Escamilla said.

One item would push retroactive Medicaid coverage from 90 days to 30, though it would require federal approval. Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, is the subcommittee’s co-chair. He said he believes most people don’t know they can be covered up to three months before they’re eligible.

“By cutting back to 30 days, we’re actually making a cut that’s pretty substantial, yet nobody is being removed from services,” Ray said. “I think it’s one of the better ones to cut.”

On Friday, the subcommittee will finalize its recommendations, which they’ll send to the executive appropriations committee for consideration. 

The public can also give input on the proposals. People who want to comment during the Friday morning meeting need to sign up by 8 p.m. Thursday to participate.

Emily Means covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Means13

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