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The Senate gave final passage Thursday to a compromise that ends a fight over whether a huge slice of transportation money should be shifted to education and/or water projects.
Over the next seven years, it will transfer $172.2 million from transportation to the general fund where it would likely be spent on education. It will also transfer $165.5 million during that time into a restricted fund for water projects
"It's a compromise that helps education, helps water and doesn't hurt transportation," said Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton. Various groups had been fighting to spend all that money on either education, water or transportation, and not split them.
The Senate voted to give final passage to the compromise, written into SB80, on an 18-8 vote, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his possible signature.
That bill will put money from the deal for water projects into a special fund to gain interest until lawmakers approve spending it on as-yet-unidentified projects.
Critics worry the money may go to the controversial, expensive Lake Powell pipeline project. They contend that improved conservation would be a lot more efficient than the pricey pipeline.
Adams said the bill doesn't include funding for specific projects. He notes that northern Utah communities want money to help build dams to develop water from the Bear River, and that other projects could share in the water money.
The Utah Department of Transportation told legislators that the transfers will not delay or hurt any large highway projects that are already programmed. But it could delay future planned projects that have no firm beginning dates, including extending the Mountain View Corridor in Salt Lake County, and the proposed West Davis Corridor in Davis and Weber counties.
The governor had proposed initially that all the transfers go for education.