Only half of the $1.5 million sought from the Utah Legislature to pay for the state’s Super Tuesday presidential primary next month is being recommended for inclusion in the new budget lawmakers are putting together.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson’s office is set to oversee a statewide presidential primary election on March 5 for just a Democratic nominee, since Utah Republicans decided to hold a presidential preference poll during their evening caucus meetings that same day.

Utah’s Super Tuesday presidential primary hasn’t been funded yet. With the GOP holding a caucus, will lawmakers pay?

But just $750,000 for the election was set aside by members of the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee in their budget proposal made this week. The request ranked 21st of the subcommittee’s 29 priority funding items.

The legislative leaders who serve on the Executive Appropriations Committee are waiting for updated revenue estimates due next week before finalizing what’s going to be added to the $28 billion in base budgets already approved this session.

Sen. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green, chairman of the budget subcommittee, told the Deseret News Wednesday he still expects the presidential primary to be fully funded even though other budget items pushed it down on the list.

“It’s going to have to happen. I mean it’s not like we can not fund that,” Owens said. “I don’t know on the reduction if that’s set or if they’re planning on the (Executive Appropriations Committee) to get back the rest” or if it’s someplace else in the budget.

Whatever the case,“we’ll fully fund it,” he said, adding, “I don’t have any worries about it not being funded at whatever level is needed.”

The lieutenant governor’s $1.5 million funding request was described to the subcommittee earlier in the session as a “very, very high-end estimate” by Duncan Evans, senior managing director of budget and operations in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget.

“We don’t believe it will come in that high,” Evans said then, noting Democrats open up their primary elections to any voters, including those who are unaffiliated with any political party, so it’s not clear how many Utahns would participate.

Henderson’s office declined to comment Wednesday on the amount being recommended to pay for the presidential primary, referring to statement made by Ryan Cowley, state director of elections, on Feb. 1 about the subcommittee testimony.

“The Lieutenant Governor requests $1.5 million in the governor’s budget to fund the presidential primary election States code reads, ‘the Legislature shall appropriate sufficient funds to administer each presidential primary election conduction,’” it said.

“While appropriations will not be finalized until the last week of the session, we have no reason to believe that the Legislature will not fund the presidential primary,” Cowley’s Feb. 1 statement concluded.

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What’s seen as a funding mandate came after the GOP chose eight years ago to hold a caucus vote instead of participating in a planned primary. Democrats were forced to do the same after lawmakers decided then not to fund that election.

Utahns from both major political parties ended up standing in long lines on a cold, snowy night to nominate presidential candidates in 2016, with some running into ballot shortages and other delays.

While the numbers of voters attending their political party’s caucus meetings hit record highs that year, the overall turnout was still much lower than in previous presidential primary elections

Following what was widely seen as caucus chaos, lawmakers spelled out the state would hold a presidential primary, although political parties were given the ability to opt out in favor of letting caucus-goers make the pick.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said he sponsored the bipartisan 2019 presidential primary legislation because “there’s nothing more important than the broadest voice of the people casting their vote to determine who they want to lead in government.”

A member of the budget subcommittee that recommended $750,000 for this year’s primary, Bramble said he’s confident “this Legislature values the voice of the people and will provide adequate funding to see that that voice is heard.”

Ballots were mailed out Tuesday for the Democratic presidential primary.

Five Democrats sought a spot on the Utah ballot — President Joe Biden, Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips, New Yorker Frank Lozada, Las Vegan Gabriel Cornejo and author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson, who has dropped out of the race.

The Utah Republican Party is handling its own presidential preference ballots, collecting filing fees of up to $50,000 each from eight candidates including former President Donald Trump and his remaining challenger, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

The GOP presidential preference vote, part of a caucus meeting where state and county delegates and precinct leadership will also be elected, is open only to Republicans. The deadline for changing party affiliations was Jan. 9.