Audit: Utah still relies heavily on federal money

The federal government controls slightly more than 63 percent of the land in Utah. A taxpayer-funded study is underway on the economics of the state managing that land instead. Photo courtesy Utah Public Lands Policy Coordination Office.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah is a little less dependent on federal money than it was at the peak of the recession, but money from Washington, D.C., is still the state’s largest revenue source, according to an audit released Wednesday.

The report from state Auditor John Dougall’s office shows federal money accounted for about 25 percent of Utah’s spending during the budget year that ended in June.

Several years ago, federal money accounted for a slightly larger chunk of the budget as the economy sagged and the unemployment rate climbed.

It peaked in 2010, when about 30 percent of Utah’s spending came from federal money.

Dougall’s office noted that while federal funds are now a slightly smaller part of the state’s income, Utah still collects more in federal money than it does from either of its two largest state taxes: income tax and sales tax.

In the 2014 budget year, Utah had about $4 billion in federal money, about $3 billion from state income tax and about $2.5 billion from sales tax collections.

State officials have been scrutinizing Utah’s reliance on federal money in recent years, citing concerns about what might happen if that assistance disappears.

In 2013, the Legislature created a Federal Funds Commission to study the issue.

Sen. Deidre Henderson, a Spanish Fork Republican and chairwoman of the commission, said Wednesday that Utah’s growing reliance on federal money is risky and the state must address it.

“As the national debt tops $18 trillion, it’s obvious that the federal government can’t possibly keep all the promises it has made to states,” Henderson said in a statement.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!