This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Gov. Gary Herbert has persuaded lawmakers to fund some of his pet projects including a business recruitment effort during budget negotiations with lawmakers.
The West Coast Marketing Initiative was among Herbert's top budget priorities. The program is designed to try to woo companies from other Western states to relocate in Utah.
Herbert had budgeted$1 million; the Legislature's budget committee approved half that much on Monday.
Spencer Eccles, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said they're still trying to get the full $1 million.
"What we're appreciative of at this point is that the Legislature recognizes the importance of leveraging our Forbes No. 1 ranking," he said. "[The program] is important and they've indicated it's important."
The legislative leaders made a handful of other changes to their budget plan, including adding $1.7 million to create a veterinary school at Utah State University, $7.8 million for a motion picture tax credit program, $350,000 for attorneys to handle public lands issues in the Attorney General's Office, and $1.3 million to keep the Utah Highway Patrol in charge of security at the Capitol instead of contracting with a private firm.
"There's a lot of ornaments on the tree that people want," said House budget chairman Melvin Brown, R-Coalville.
Legislative leaders also added funding for a handful of education programs, steering more money to the Carson Smith private school scholarship for special needs children, English-as-a-second-language software, fine arts and science outreach programs, and computer programs for preschoolers.
"We funded more money to public education than the governor requested," said Brown.
The Legislature's budget does contain $200,000 more than the governor requested, spreading it over a number of different programs. "But we aren't done yet. The governor will want more," Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said.
With three days remaining in the legislative session, there are still a handful of contentious budget issues to be resolved.
One of the biggest decisions is whether to build any new state buildings, and how to pay for them. The Utah State Hospital is at the top of the list at a cost of $25 million.
Brown said the only options to come up with construction money is to incur debt by issuing building bonds, or to go along with the governor's proposal to require self-employed Utahns to file their income taxes quarterly.
Currently, Utah is one of two states that collects those taxes annually. Moving to a quarterly system would make $130 million extra available in the current budget year.
While the Senate is open to the proposal, the House has taken a position against the tax change.
The Legislature also has to figure out how much money it wants to put into leasing beds in county jails to house prison inmates and try to avoid having to release inmates early.
Budget leaders say they are looking at $4 million for jail contracting. That would still mean 150 inmates would be released early and the prison system would be at capacity, meaning for every convict sentenced, another would have to be released.