Last year, the nation watched and prayed five days while rescuers searched the abandoned Hidden Treasure Mine in Tooele County for lost Joshua Dennis of Kearns.
The boy was found safe, miraculously - a true hidden treasure. His ordeal renewed calls for the government to seal off the 10,000 similar dangerous, abandoned mines throughout Utah.But Utah's share of the U.S. Interior Department's Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program is being cut 22 percent in President Bush's proposed 1991 budget - from $1.5 million in 1990 to $1.17 million.
So fewer mines will likely be sealed, and the possibility of another lost Joshua in a mine lurks greater. But the funding cut helps avoid the need for any new taxes - which are against Bush's "read-my-lips" campaign pledges.
That is just one example of proposed cuts facing Utah in its share of grants programs as the federal government tries to respond to the age-old, impossible problem of satisfying calls for both more services and no more taxes.
In fact, the share of Utah and its local governments of 101 major federal grant programs in Bush's budget would decrease 1.78 percent from fiscal 1990, according to figures from the Office of Management and Budget totaled by the Deseret News.
That money from formula grants - about 80 percent of all the federal aid to state and local governments - would drop from $624 million in fiscal 1990 to $613 million.
That doesn't count buying power also lost from inflation.
Here's a look at some of the losers in Utah's proposed share of grant money:
- Various highway construction, planning and safety grants would decrease from $95.7 million to $93.4 million.
- Various job-training programs would be cut from a total of $4.7 million to $4.4 million.
- Community development block grants, used locally for everything from building new parks to new fire stations, would decrease from $15.2 million to $14.6 million.
- Medicaid assistance to low-income and other people would drop from $185.5 million to $182.2 million.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants to help control water quality and build new sewer plants would drop from $14.1 million to $10.8 million.
- Overall Education Department grants to help Utah schools, teachers and students would drop from $78.9 million to $70.5 million.
On the other hand, here's some of the winners in Utah's proposed share of grant money:
- Various Agriculture Department programs to help provide nutrition, such as food stamps, up from $5.1 million to $5.4 million; the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Program, from $21.1 million to $22.1 million; and the school lunch program, from $18.9 to $21.2 million.
- Grants for emergency services to the homeless, from $87,000 to $168,000 - nearly doubling in one year.
- Drug-free schools programs, from $3.96 million to $4.06 million.
- Alcohol, drug abuse and mental health services block grants, from $8.5 million to $9.1 million.
All those figure are not yet firm and final. Congress changes Bush's budget as it adopts its own appropriations bills. And Bush and congressional leaders are scheduled to hold a summit soon to discuss such things as even raising taxes to better supply demands, despite earlier campaign promises.
In other words, now is the time to tell your member of Congress about whether you want more services or no more taxes.
Lobbying is almost always strongest by people who want to save a program that is to be cut. Those wanting the resulting lower taxes, however, should also let their member know - but realize the cost with which it comes.
Deciding how to cut the pie, and how large the pie should be, is what politics is all about. It is never large enough for all the needs that can be identified. But a letter or call to your member of Congress might just save your treasure of most value - whatever it is - from the government.