Archive for category Budget

Seriously? Utah’s Plan To Seize Public Lands Would Cost $280 Million A Year

Manti-La Sal National Forest

The right-wing Utah legislature began a legal battle to steal our public lands when Gov. Gary Herbert signed HB 148, the “Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study” in March 2012. Supposedly, if the federal government does not turn over title to 31.2 million acres of land by the end of this month the State of Utah will spend millions of dollars of our tax money on a ridiculous lawsuit. HB 148 is utterly unconstitutional according to the Property Clause (U.S. Const. art. IV, sec. 3, cl. 2.), the Utah Constitution (Article III), and illegal under Section 3 of the Utah Enabling Act.

We found out yesterday that a theoretical takeover of public lands by the State of Utah would place a heavy burden on the state budget.

A study released Monday by researchers at three Utah universities found that transferring national forests and other public lands to the state of Utah would cost taxpayers at least $280 million per year — a price tag that could only be paid if the state were able to increase drilling and mining, seize energy royalty payments that are owed to U.S. taxpayers, and, if energy prices remain low, raise taxes to pay for the shortfall.

Here’s the right-wing “plan”: Fire 5,000 or so federal employees, abolish all of our national forests and national parks, and turn over Utah public lands to the corporations– particularly the oil and gas industry and the tar sands industry. These are the same legislators who slashed the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation budget by nearly 80 percent. What could possibly go wrong?


Utah Can’t Afford Steven Sandstrom and Ex-Cop Carl Wimmer

On the same day that “Patrick Henry Caucus” founder Rep. Steven Sandstrom unveiled his anti-immigrant bill without a clue how to pay for it, Carl Wimmer announced that Utah must reject $150,000,000 federal dollars being offered to Utah schools.

Police would be fined for refusing to profile

Police would be fined for refusing to profile

I give Republican Representative Sandstrom credit for his bravery.  Today, amidst a mixed crowd of Anglo and Latino Americans who took time out of their day to do their civic duty to protest this big, expensive, government intrusion, unless they were lurking in the shadows, I saw not one supporter of his new proposed Arizona-lite law.

In response to repeated questions about the cost of trying and locking up people otherwise accused of jay-walking or rolling stops, Sandstrom finally said, “whatever the cost, it will be worth it.”

When asked how the law would deal with the many law enforcement professionals who will refuse to participate in racial profiling, Sandstrom got really animated and  announced they would be fined.  OK?  Get it?  This genius is going to fine local law enforcement for refusing to act outside their jurisdiction to conduct mass racial profiling of Utahns who have the misfortune of having light brown skin.

Ex-Cop Carl Wimmer make's Glenn Beck look sane

Ex-Cop Carl Wimmer make's Glenn Beck look sane

Independent estimates put the cost of such a law in the two to three hundred million dollars range per year not counting economic cost of the lost business from boycotts.

On the way home, I heard Carl Wimmer UT-R Herriman on KCPW.

Carl calmly explained that this gift to Utah schools was nothing more than a ploy to buy votes for Obama. Instantly, I considered the possibility that Obama might win Utah in 2012. Then, I woke up and reminded myself that Carl Wimmer is a Utah Republican whose constituents accept this logic as easily as they do the piss poor education their kids get in Herriman, Utah. But hey, if it was good enough for them, its good enough for their kids…I guess.

Someone please remind Carl Wimmer that Utahns pay federal taxes too.  Read more about Carl Wimmer here.

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KRCL: Radioactive

Fair boundaries



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Chris Buttars: Creative Idiot or Plain Vanilla Idiot?

I just like that headline because it’s funny.  Actually, Buttars’ proposal to reconsider 12th grade is pretty intriguing.

I think such a plan would create disadvantages for college bound Utah students nationally; but it might also allow us to reconsider how we handle non-college bound students.

What if students who don’t plan on going to college could receive job training while we create a 12th year of school that is dedicated to college prep for college bound students?  Read the rest of this entry »


To balance the budget, let’s tax the poor more

He’s not just a state senator, he’s the president of the Utah Taxpayer’s Association, “your tax watchdog”. His own personal web site says,”Fighting to reduce your taxes, not add more!” (exclamation point is his)

But now Sen. Howard Stephenson, taxpaper advocate, is saying we need to increase the tax on food to the same rate people pay for boats and SUVs. He’d rather reduce the state income tax, which he says would be a real economic stimulus. Stimulus for whom? The thousands of Utahns who have lost their jobs? The tens of thousands of Utahns who live paycheck to paycheck? Or is it the buddies who hand out Jazz tickets and free dinners during the legislative session? Sure let’s drop the income tax on those who need it the least, and let’s make life even tougher by forcing lower income people to pay a disproportionate amount of their income on taxes.

Everyone eats, that means taxing food is the easy way out. It’s not the equitable solution, it’s just the easy one.

Okay, taxpayers of Dist. 11, I want you to remember this name the next time you see it on a ballot. This is your representative who thinks that adding the sales tax back onto food is a good way of bringing more money into state coffers:
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper


“Without a doubt, our budget would not be as bad off as it is now had we reduced the income tax more and left the food sales tax intact,” Stephenson says.

He says the food tax is a more stable revenue source than the income tax; while incomes rise and fall with the economic times, everybody has to eat.

Stephenson and Senate Budget Chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, are now calling for the sales tax on unprepared food to be restored to the same rate as the general state sales tax: 4.70 percent.

The rate was ultimately reduced, in two separate moves in 2006 and 2007, to 1.75 percent–where it stands today.



Utah’s Dueling Budget Cuts

utahcapitolGovernor Jon Huntsman has proposed state budget cuts of 7 percent. Not to be outdone, the Utah Senate Republicans are proposing cuts of a whopping 15 percent.

Senators feel the cuts will be needed to offset further revenue declines, which may come with February estimates. They are preparing for the worst, but discussed lesser cuts if revenue totals allow for it. They met at the Little America Hotel in a closed-door retreat.

While Huntsman is calling for cuts across the board, the senators are willing to cut nearly all departments including education, but roads projects, no so much.

Transportation will see its proportional cut of funding, but won’t see more the extreme cuts proposed by Huntsman, if the Senate majority has its way.

“Looking back at past years, [transportation funding] was considered another rainy day fund,” Killpack said. “We had a little more confidence in our friends at the federal level back then, but those days seem to be gone. Too much of our economic development and well-being rely on solid transportation project funding.”

No doubt there’s fat in the state budget, but I’m concerned that the transportation budget remains sacred above all the rest. Pardon my paranoia, but it sounds fishy to me. Perhaps the senators need to be a little less gung ho, and consider the guv’s more moderate across-the-board cuts.

And a word on Sunshine Laws, ethics, and meeting in secret:

Did you notice the senators “met . . . in a closed-door retreat”? Some years ago they passed a law commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law that required local government entities to meet only in properly announced public meetings except for some very limited exceptions (such as, to discuss a real estate purchase or a personnel matter, I think that’s about it). But of course, the legislature made itself exempt from this law.

Since ethics is another big topic on the table for this coming session, I’d like to see the legislature submit itself to the same rules it has placed upon other government entities. Stop meeting behind closed doors to do the people’s business. It makes it look like you have something to hide and makes us distrust you.

Let the sunshine in, brethren.

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