FUNDING: Utah lawmakers favor round of project earmarks

Latest transportation spending measure provides money for specific jobs at the local level

Funding News Salt Lake Tribune March 12, 2013
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The Speaker of the House for the state of Utah believes when it comes to transportation projects, her chamber should continue to have a hands-off approach. However, a growing group of Senators want to leave their prints all over the road.

 

The Utah Senate approved HB377 on March 11 by a 17-10 margin. The measure would earmark $41-45 million for local projects, with the money coming from previously authorized bonding. The Utah Transportation Commission is usually the one deciding which project receives funding, and the move from the Senate did not sit well with House Speaker Becky Lockhart.

 

“I am personally getting a little tired of this continually directing the Transportation Commission what to do, as opposed to leaving it up to them,” said Lockhart. The House approved HB377 by a convincing 73-1 margin, with the lone opposition coming from Lockhart. HB377 will now be sent back to the Utah House following the revisions.

 

Lockhart is not the lone wolf. Sen. Lyle Hillyard also voiced his opposition for HB377, and warned the state legislature that the bill would take Utah to 79% of its bonding capacity, leaving little to handle emergencies.

 

“It’s just not prudent planning,” he said.

 

Sen. Stuart Adams sponsored HB377, saying the Utah Department of Transportation has little left in terms of funding after taking on several large projects over the past few years.

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