Posts Tagged closed-door meetings

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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