Base Budgets and This Year’s Challenge
During the first few weeks of the legislative session, all of the House members spend their mornings in appropriations subcommittees designing a base budget. This budget acts as a backstop if no final agreement is reached between the House and Senate during the legislative session, which this year ends at midnight on March 12.
The base budget is based on the current fiscal year’s budget, with one-time funding removed.
This year, all appropriations subcommittees have been asked to design their base budget at 98 percent of the current allocation, as part of a budget effectiveness review. Through this exercise, each department has been charged with looking for inefficiencies, as well as determining departmental priorities in the case of declining state revenue.
Though there is no concern this year, and budget surpluses are projected while departmental cuts are not, this process will allow lawmakers to evaluate current funding, gain insights into potential areas of savings and determine how to more efficiently utilize state funds.
Once this task is complete, lawmakers will start the work of building a new budget and working with the Senate to finalize it over the next month.
I serve as the House Vice Chair on the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. This committee reviews and makes recommendations on specific budget information related to the budgets of Elected Offices, general public safety, and state criminal justice agencies. We have oversight for the state criminal justice system including law enforcement, judiciary and incarceration issues. Those recommendations are forwarded to the Executive Appropriations Committee and on to the Legislature.
There are ten agencies assigned to our committee:
Department of Corrections (UDC)
Board of Pardons and Parole
Division of Juvenile Justice Services (DJJS)
Courts (Judicial Branch)
Department of Public Safety (DPS)
Currently our committee is working on crime-related to substance abuse and reviewing the value of specific programs to reduce crime. Utah has a disproportionately growing prison population in relation to our state population growth. We are looking for solutions to solve the strain on our prison resources. We also work with medicaid fraud and recovery.
Here’s a link to the Committee’s Base budget and committee work we are reviewing for the Fiscal Year 2016 base budget. It currently represents a .9 percent reduction from Fiscal Year 2015.
Other Committee Work
We’ve also spent this week hearing and debating bills in committee, as well as on the House floor. You can click on the links under the Committee Assignments for links to notes and agendas. We’re making good progress and look forward to hearing your comments and concerns over the course of this 2015 General Legislative Session.