The grass isn't always greener economically on the other side of the fence from Utah, reveals a survey of the fiscal status of states, which was released Thursday.
Utah's economy continues to project a more stable picture economically than most of the nation's 50 states, shows the spring survey compiled by the National Association of State Budget Officers.
The NASBO does a fiscal survey of all 50 states twice a year, and the latest report covers a time frame from February through April 2013. NASBO does the report for the National Governors Association.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is one of nine governors on the NGA's executive committee.
The survey shows state governments are climbing out of the fiscal hole many fell into during the economic downturn. The report shows 30 states, including Utah, are on course to enjoy a budget surplus, while another 10 are said to be right on target with revenue.
The survey shows the Beehive State with a rainy day fund balance of $277 million in 2012 and a projected bump to $288 million this year.
The report also projects an increase in state sales tax revenue of 3.1 percent in the 2013 fiscal year and a 4.1 hike in the 2014 fiscal year.
Juliette Tennert, Utah's chief economist of the Governor's Office of Management and Budget, said the report shows Utah has bounced back from the recession better than most.
She said the state has more people employed now than it did in December 2007, when the downturn first began to show up in the numbers.
The report mirrors a continuation of slow growth for the Beehive State -- but a growth more stable than many of its neighboring states, Tennert said.
She credits state lawmakers' fiscally prudent approach to spending as part of the reason Utah has fared better through the recession than others.
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, said Utah's status in the report is not an accident.
"It shows we manage our money well and have been willing to make the tough decisions and live within our means."
Christensen experiences those tough choices every year as chairman of the Social Services committee.
"It's always, always difficult to make those decisions, but we do it," he said of the balancing act of measuring social service program funding with incoming revenue.
Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-North Ogden, said the Legislature has been in a conservative, buckle-down mode fiscally since he got into office in 2009.
One of the side benefits of Utah's economic picture is attending national conferences and interacting with people from other states where the picture is not so stable, he said.
"It's sort of fun to come from a state that has a stable economy," Wilcox said.
The NASBO report also details the impact an expansion of Medicaid to the states is expected to have in the 2014 fiscal year as part of implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Utah is only one of nine states where that impact is uncertain. Herbert has not yet decided whether to accept the federal expansion plan.
While the report shows improvement in revenue for the states, it also shows spending for many states across the country remains below the 2008 peak when adjusted for inflation.
It also continues data aligning some of the economic growth in states to a spike in estate tax and capital gains revenue that came at the end of 2012, when many people cashed in profits to avoid the possibility of higher federal taxes this year.
That spike was especially evident in Utah, where budget estimates bumped one-time or surplus income tax collections for the current budget year from $40 million to $161 million.
The surplus helped state lawmakers fund a number of initiatives during the legislative session that they otherwise would not have been able to fund.