Higher natural-gas prices are providing a 50 percent increase in oil and gas severance tax collections. Cigarette sales are down, however, since the Legislature raised the state's tobacco tax, and those revenues have dropped by about $25 million in the past year.
Economists pointed to some causes for concern: The Federal Reserve could tighten its monetary policy, which might pinch income-tax payments and taxable sales. The rise of China as a global economic powerhouse also could play a larger role in dictating conditions in the United States.
Legislators also heard a report on a number of pilot programs implemented in recent years to help cover special treatment for children with autism.
Thus far, the programs have helped fund services for 380 children, said Michael Hales, Utah's director of Medicaid and Health Financing. Early testing has shown that those children receiving treatment for even six months show significant improvement in assessment tests.
"It's tremendous to see the services and some of the outcomes with the children," Hales said.
Another benefit, he said, is that state programs have bolstered the private-provider network.
A total of 366 children have participated in two of the programs one funded with Medicaid dollars and the other through private donations and state money. Costs for treating those children have been considerably less than anticipated about $23,000 per child, compared with the $35,000 that was forecast.
Senate Budget Chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, praised the work.
"What you've been able to do with the pilot program and then bringing in insurance," he said, "I think we've expanded a benefit that was very needed for a number of people."