Call for Spending Limit Amendment to Utah Constitution

For Immediate Release: Feb. 17, 2011
Contact: David Buer, Director of Communications
Sutherland Institute
801-355-1272 (w)
801-657-0756 (c)


SALT LAKE CITY (FEB. 17, 2011)—Representative Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, released a joint resolution today that would require the Legislature to limit state spending to the amount the state expended during the preceding fiscal year with an increase allowed for inflation plus the percentage growth of the state population. Wimmer worked with Sutherland Institute to craft the legislation that encourages enhanced fiscal responsibility and limited government.

“HJR 37 will prudently save taxpayer dollars during economic plenty so that the state will be prepared for economic famine and for natural emergencies; it is really about fiscal responsibility and maintaining Utah’s place as best-managed state in the nation,” said Derek Monson, Sutherland Institute manager of public policy. “Human nature tempts everyone – both legislators and non-legislators – to spend every dollar available. That is why good savings plans, like an IRA or 401(k), take money from a person’s paycheck before they have a chance to spend it – it’s the responsible and wise thing to do. Political pressures on legislators only magnify the appeal of excessive spending over saving.”

Other highlights of HJR 37 include:

• a requirement to send surplus state revenue to the “rainy-day” fund and emergency preparedness and disaster relief accounts

• a requirement to refund any remaining surplus to taxpayers

• a provision allowing the Legislature to exceed the spending limit with a two-thirds vote and the governor’s approval

• a stipulation that if the state transfers responsibility for a program or service to a political subdivision (e.g., county, city), the state spending limit will be reduced by the amount the political subdivision must spend to maintain stable funding for the program

HJR 37’s unique approach to spending limits sets a high bar for the Legislature to meet, yet allows complete latitude in allocating funds. The joint resolution creates a road map for Utah’s future that promotes wise financial stewardship in a way that reasonably allows legislators to do the job citizens elect them to do, and it helps the state avoid painful cuts to programs and services.

Sutherland Institute is a conservative, state-based, independent public policy organization located in Salt Lake City. Its mission: protecting the cause of freedom, constructively influencing Utah’s decision makers, and promoting responsible citizenship. Sutherland Institute is recognized as the leading conservative think tank in the state of Utah.