Legislative clerks

Legislative Week 4: Budget Whoa and Woe

davidwicaiBlog, Legislature

As the Legislature crossed the midway point of its 45-day session, priorities and challenges have started to crystallize.

Most important for the department, the Business, Labor, and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee finalized their list of funding recommendations. Among those recommended by the committee members was $3.5 million ongoing for arts and museums grants.

Committee members emphasized the importance of the increased grants for reducing the amount of direct requests legislators currently receive from organizations. This year, the subcommittee heard more than 80 requests for appropriation, many of them coming from arts groups.

Although less than the $6 million proposed by Gov. Gary Herbert, the amount recommended by the subcommittee would have a transformative effect on cultural funding in the state.

Along with the grants funding, a department request for a collections manager for State History was also recommended by the committee. And while the proposed Artifacts & Art Center was not recommended based on this year’s budget by another subcommittee, it was included on its broader list of projects it supports funding if money is available.

The Executive Appropriations Committee will now consider the subcommittee recommendations as part of their final budget negotiations. The task for legislative leaders, however, became more daunting at the end of the week when updated revenue estimates came in lower than when the session started.

Bill Updates

While budget discussions became the focal point, bills important to the department continued to progress.

Most notably, Senate Bill 81 passed a House committee and moved to the House floor for final consideration. This bill amends the program intended to identify burial sites for ancient human remains so that American Indian tribes can be consulted on location, process, and other factors.

Another bill moving forward was House Bill 224, which includes a number of clean-up items for the department. The bill passed the House and is currently awaiting committee assignment in the Senate.