Local legislators trying to cope with budget blues

Those attending a “listening session” with state lawmakers on Saturday got no good news on the state of the budget that has to be passed by the time the session adjourns on March 11th. State Representative Fred Hunsaker, R-District 4, said he’s concerned because the state is starting to spend more than it can pay back.”All the stimulus that came last year…it’s not here now. It’s gone,” Hunsaker said. “So now what do we replace it with? “Well, we replace it with rainy day money. But all that does, is that’s one-time money again. So we kick the can further down the street. We’ll have to pay the piper sometime.”Hunsaker, along with Representative Curt Webb, R-District 5, and Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, assured those attending that they would do all they could to avoid draconian budget cuts in such areas as education, health and human services, and senior citizen programs.Sen. Hillyard is co-chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee. He told the group of local residents Saturday that it’s the most difficult budget he has ever had to work with.”Putting all this together it is really, really not pretty,” Sen. Hillyard said.Hillyard said the legislature has turned to others for their recommendations to get the budget in line. “We have left it to the committee, the Health and Human Service Committee. We’ve given them all a charge to find 5% of reductions, 5% in their budget, and there have been a lot of changes. “I’ve probably been most impressed with Health and Human Services with what they’ve tried to do with their budget.”Hillyard says some rainy day money is being used to balance the budget and some people want to raise cigarette taxes. He says that would bring in only $35 million of the $500 million shortfall.

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