This is an archived article that was published on in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Governor and Legislature. House and Senate. Even a sprinkling of Democrats among all those Republicans.

With this many built-in rivalries, it takes a unique set of circumstances to please them all.

Not everyone got exactly what they wanted but most got enough to leave satisfied when the 2007 legislative session ended at midnight.

In a state where Republicans can ignore the minority party, even the Democratic leader in the House, Ralph Becker, declared that it has been "a very, very positive year. The people of Utah were well served."

So what happened? The answer is twofold. First, lawmakers wanted to avoid a repeat of last year where infighting and acrimony filled the legislative halls.

And second, lawmakers sat atop a mountain of cash.

"If you are not pleased with this legislative session, I'm not sure we will ever be able to put a smile on your face," said House Majority Leader David Clark.

Riding an economic high, the state collected $1.7 billion in surplus tax revenue.

That allowed the most conservative lawmakers to score a big tax cut and even bigger cash infusion to build roads, while those who are more liberal could land money for programs to help the poor and uninsured.

''It wasn't a decision of 'either, or' this year, it was the possibility of doing it all,'' said Karen Crompton, a lobbyist with Utah Children, who requested money for child care, extended-day kindergarten and uninsured children.

Lawmakers funded all that and more.

Teachers will get big raises. Students will get new computers and supplies. College tuition will increase more slowly than in years past.

Road builders have $500 million to ease congestion. Most Utahns will save a few hundred dollars in income and sales tax.

"They say it is harder having a lot of money - of course it is not," said Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay. "I've gotten just about everything I have asked for."

This wouldn't be possible without multiple years of historic surpluses, legislative budget gurus say. The Legislature had a $1 billion surplus in 2006 but instead of being heaped with praise, lawmakers were roundly criticized.

The public education community, led by the teachers' union, complained that transportation projects received money that should have gone to schools.

Low-income advocates held biting protests trying to get money for emergency dental care for the poor. Republican lawmakers refused, forcing Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to find money from private donors.

And then there was the tax debate. The House wanted to rid the state of the sales tax on groceries. The Senate refused and everyone dug in. The result was a botched tax package that died in the final hours, forcing a special session later in the year. Lawmakers left with bruised egos.

Huntsman joined Senate President John Valentine and House Speaker Greg Curtis in promising to change the tone.

"We decided that we would be kinder and gentler. Nice to each other and more respectful," Curtis said.

As Huntsman put it: "When people work together you get more done."

Tax debates took place earlier with the aim to reach middle ground sooner. The final plan, which created a 5 percent single rate income tax plan and reduced the sales tax unanimously, passed the House on Wednesday, receiving praise from Democrats and Republicans alike.

House Republicans kept all but one caucus open, providing public information that was previously discussed behind closed doors, something that low-income advocate Linda Hilton said eased concerns and furthered understanding. Senate Republicans continued their practice of holding closed-door caucuses.

The Legislature even passed an ethics reform bill, something that has only resulted in bitter debates in years past. The bill requires lobbyists to disclose which legislators accept free tickets to a sporting event and increases reporting. But it didn't ban gifts or increase disclosure on meals, which some had called for.

"It will be a small step," Becker said. "But at least it is a step."

But even with all the money and the spirit of cooperation, some left the Capitol frustrated.

Becker complained that open space conservation only received "token" recognition. Republicans handed over $2 million for the next year, but only after Huntsman complained.

Hilton said she was "disappointed" that lawmakers refused to build into the budget money for emergency dental care for the poor, instead giving $2 million for one year.

"The crisis continues," she said, promising to once again lobby next session.

Also, Republicans only half-funded the growth in the disability waiting list in the Medicaid program, one of Huntsman's only priorities not to get the money he asked for.

"We can always do better and we will strive to do better next year," the governor said.

Huntsman along with House and Senate leaders heralded their funding for public schools as the high point of the session and public education advocates say they are appreciative, if a little stung.

After years of holding off publicly subsidies for private-school tuition, a voucher program passed the House by one vote and was rushed into law.

"That kind of took the wind out of my sails for other issues," said Taylorsville GOP Rep. Kory Holdaway, a special-education teacher.

Some of the good spirits may be a bit of a fašade though. Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, a former teacher, said: ''I've learned the last few days not to appear ungrateful.''

She tried to divert some transportation money to help reduce class sizes, but failed.

Advocates for those items will undoubtedly be back and lawmakers suspect they will have a sizeable surplus again next year, though probably not another historic one.

That aside, even most of the frustrated advocates this year look at the entire session and the whole budget as a victory.

As Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich said Wednesday: "If I had that much money, I could make you all happy too."


* NICOLE STRICKER and GLEN WARCHOL contributed to this article.