Is There Any Reason That GOP Lawmakers Don’t Want to Tap Utah’s Rainy Day Fund?

I take the Salt Lake City Tribune, and I've been following this news of budget cuts to cover our state's shortfall. Notably (and not particularly surprising here in Utah), public education is getting the ax. Republicans in the legislature want to cut overall state funding by 15% — a large part of it will be higher education. (That's quite a bit — especially considering the programs we all know Utah GOP is most likely to deny). Normally, I'd be all for this show of frugality, but the truth is that it's kind of silly, considering that Utah has a very nice Rainy Day Fund — with $414 million. Additionally, there's a pretty well funded (nearly $1 billion) in the trust that helps fund education. The Republican lawmakers in the great state of Utah apparently think that the economic tsunami we are facing doesn't warrant rainy day funds.

This has me puzzled.

We have an emergency fund here at home. When one of my clients is late paying me, or if Josh ends up taking sick days and doesn't get his hours in, or if some big unexpected repair needs to be made, we dip into the emergency fund. This bridges the gap. When our finances return to normal, we build the fund back up. It's what makes sense in personal finances — and it's what makes sense for state finances.

The Democrats in the legislature and the Republican governor want to cut some spending as well (by 7%) and then cover the rest of shortfall with the Rainy Day Fund. This makes sense. It emphasizes frugality while at the same time not being so frugal that it jeopardizes some of our priorities down the road. Unfortunately, the super majority the GOP enjoys in the legislature means that the imprudent course will likely be followed in this matter.

There's nothing wrong with using the Rainy Day Fund. It's what it's there for.

5 thoughts on “Is There Any Reason That GOP Lawmakers Don’t Want to Tap Utah’s Rainy Day Fund?”

  1. I agree!!! The other thing that we have thought about is why are they not offering early retirement. It could save them so much money and people would not be loosing their jobs.

  2. Now there’s an interesting thought! Encourage people to voluntarily leave. Another idea is to offer unpaid personal days. Many people are willing to take these if it means a little more leisure time.

  3. I found this post particularly interest because how much the state of Arizona has been suffering economically. My Mom is a profressor at ASU, my brother-in-law and his wife all work at ASU and I constantly hear about how bad things are there. But like the CEO’s of some of these failing companies throughout the country, there are higher-ups at the university no taking a significant enough pay cut. If I were you and my state had a rainy day fund for horrible circumstances like this I would be so mad they won’t tap into it either! Why are things like education being sacrificed if there are alternatives to the budget crisis!!

  4. Unpaid days are another great idea. I actually think that is what the court systems in Utah are planning on doing. I know for us that wouldn’t be a good option though. As far as offering early retirement, it would kind of be like asking for volunteers to quit. I think there would have to be some sort of benefits package. Look at it this way though. There are many employees at USU that are within five years of retirement. They could give them a deal and let them go. By doing so they save money that they were paying into their retirement fund like 401k and also their medical. That can be a lot of money! They then hire out someone for the empty job (or promote people within the University) at a lower pay and less experience. I am not very smart at these matters and I am sure there is going to be a lot of consequences no matter what they do, but that way we keep jobs and keep the economy going. Yes, these jobs are not going to pay as much, but in times like these I think we would rather have a job that doesn’t pay very well then have everyone on unemployment; which is going to end up costing the state more. Just my opinion. I also wanted to say I am sorry to the Miller Family. There has actually been an article about what is going on at ASU circulating here and I am sorry for all of those it is affecting and going to affect.

  5. Thanks for dropping by, Miller Family! I’m sorry to hear about the business with your family. I, too, have heard about the issues at ASU. It’s sad that we haven’t made education — our future — a priority. It’s a national problem.

    I agree, tnralvords, that unpaid won’t work for everyone. Interestingly, my husband’s supervisor for his assistantship is trying to use the economy as a reason to give him a raise. They need to hire someone, and Josh’s boss is making the argument that they can pay him less if they give him the position, since he is working on his Ph.D. and doesn’t have it yet.

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