SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah lawmakers have scheduled a vote on whether to overturn Gov. Gary Herbert's veto of a bill that dedicates a portion of the state sales tax to transportation.
Two weeks of negotiations between Republican leaders and Herbert on the proposal have failed, said Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville. Those talks went late into the night Monday and Herbert rejected a final offer Tuesday morning, Waddoups said.
If successful, this would be the third time legislators have overturned a governor's veto in the last 15 years.
Waddoups said Senate Bill 229 is important because it will provide a dependable source of revenue for road construction and maintenance.
The measure would require 30 percent of the growth in sales tax to be put in the state's transportation fund beginning in 2013. It would provide an estimated $59 million to the fund that year.
"Our infrastructure is one of the most needy places," Waddoups said. "We have no funds available for transportation projects over the next three years."
Herbert said the state needs flexibility in budget decisions. By committing money to transportation it could tighten the budgets of other critical areas, especially education and human services.
"Maintaining the responsible fiscal prudence for which Utah is acclaimed includes protecting budget flexibility," Herbert said. "I am confident that my positions serve the best interests of the people of Utah -- now, and into the future."
Legislators can always tap the transportation money for other areas with a majority vote so the state is not losing flexibility, said House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, R-Provo. But providing funds is necessary to ensure the state's infrastructure, which is "important to economic development," doesn't suffer.
The May 6 special session will be the second time lawmakers have met since the general session ended March 10. The first special session was to repeal an open records law that exempted text messages and most other electronic communications from public review.
Three other bills Herbert vetoed on March 31 will probably not be considered during the session, including one that would have required state offices to be open five days a week. Compromises have been worked out on all of the bills, Waddoups said.