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REVENUE PANEL OKS BUDGET SPENDING CAP

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After hesitating on a vote last month, legislators bit the bullet Tuesday and said yes to a budget spending cap and no to school impact fees.

The action was taken by the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee, which prepared bills on the issues for debate by the full Legislature after it convenes in January. In deciding to re-enact the state spending limit, committee members opted for a 10-year extension proposed by Rep. Evan L. Olsen, R-Young Ward.The measure has become necessary because the existing spending cap expires next year, at the same time that the state is approaching the limit for the first time. The limit is based on a complicated formula that considers economic growth, population increases and other factors.

With a projected $72 million surplus this year, along with $265 million in new revenues next year, lawmakers fear that the existing cap may be reached. However, the mostly fiscally conservative legislators on the committee favor some type of restrictions on state government growth.

The committee members also favor restrictions on school impact fees. Members agreed to send the full Legislature a bill that prohibits the imposition of school impact fees anywhere in the state.

The issue was raised earlier this year, when the Park City School District through the Summit County Commission began imposing a fee of about $3,500 on every new home built in the county to help support the construction of new school facilities.

Rep. Kevin S. Garn, R-Layton, proposed the legislation, arguing that these fees are not fair to new homebuyers who don't have children. He also said that funding mechanisms already exist for school districts that want to raise money for new buildings.