Do you ever wonder what happened to the cliche' that we are all in this together? The belief that what happens to one ripples and and impacts others? It seems this concept might be missing when it comes to the politicians in Washington, DC.
Do you ever wonder what happened to the cliche' that we are all in this together? The belief that what happens to one ripples and and impacts others?
It seems this concept might be missing when it comes to the politicians in Washington, DC.
It is impossible to miss the discussions and daily drama of the "fiscal cliff" and the implications for the federal budget. However, it seems to be lost on Washington that their actions, or lack of actions, will have a profound ripple effect on the budgets of states and local governments.
In Utah, we have been seeing signs of economic recovery for several quarters. Our state’s unemployment rate is 5.2 percent. Home sales have increased. Forbes magazine has consistently rated Utah as the number one place to do business.
All of these positive indicators manifest themselves in enhanced revenue projections for the 2013 Legislative cycle that predicts $300 million in revenue growth over the previous year. The news about the revenue projects is incredibly positive, or it was until the impending doom of the fiscal cliff and the real threat that no compromise would be reached by year’s end.
Our positive projection of $300 million in revenue growth makes a huge swing to the negative if a compromise is not reached; to the tune of nearly $248 million in the red.
Our connectedness is so clearly showcased by this current political crisis. Our state swings from the budget black to the red based on Washington D.C. outside of the control of the governor, legislature or local mayors.
We are just over one month away from the start of our annual budget session and our budget numbers could land anywhere in a $500 million range. Our state constitution requires the governor to plan and present his budget to the state’s legislature in December using consensus revenue estimates.
This means the governor will have to propose a budget that assumes an extra $300 million to spend that may or may not really materialize by the time the legislature is called into session in January.
A $500 million swing is much more than a rounding error and puts the state in a very difficult planning scenario.
Do we assume the worst and plan for a $248 million budget deficit, which may require cuts to departments, programs and personnel? Or, take the leap of faith that Congress and the president will remember we are all in this together
and will find a compromise in time to preserve our $300 million growth projection?
Perhaps we aim for the middle and cross our fingers.
Not to mention that the uncertainty of the fiscal climate has made families and business very timid about year-end spending.
This may drive down the sales tax collections for the holiday season that many cities depend on as their primary funding source. We might think that our 2,000-mile distance from Washington provides some geographic budget buffer, but it doesn’t. We may balance our budget as a state and live within our means, but we are still interconnected with Washington in budget and economic outlook.
There is too much riding on the outcome of the federal budget discussions to ignore it and think it will resolve
Now is the time to let your federal representatives know that you feel that their actions or inactions on this vital subject will with certainty ripple across all of these United States and into the pocketbooks of every Utah citizen.
Is it too much to ask that we stop posturing about who is right and do what is right?
We are truly all in this together. Let’s work for the solution that will allow states like Utah to continue leading
this nation toward economic recovery.
Rep. Brad Dee is the Majority Leader in the Utah State House of Representatives. He represents House District 11, which covers portions of Davis and Weber Counties.