2013 Legislature: Testimony in favor of SCR 7 — reducing dependence on federal funds

Testimony given by Stan Rasmussen Friday in support of Sen. Aaron Osmond’s Concurrent Resolution to Reduce Utah’s Dependence on Federal Funds (SCR 7) before the Senate Government Operations Committee:

Thank you, Madam Chair, and good morning, Senators. I am Stan Rasmussen, Sutherland Institute director of public affairs.

It is universally recognized that federal funds comprise a significant portion of state and local budgets in Utah. And, as has been discussed, the federal government is both insolvent and continuing the behaviors that have produced the insolvency. To say this is a problem is an understatement. The purpose of Financial Ready Utah is to raise awareness about and address this problem.

With what could have happened with the recent so-called “fiscal cliff” and the pending potential sequestration, it is not difficult to imagine what could yet happen. Acknowledging your awareness of Utah’s dependence on federal funds, I would call your attention to the “Fiscal Policy Primer” two-page overview I have provided to you.

In the first bullet, just below the center of the first page – “The federal government cannot meet its current financial obligations” – I would highlight the fact that as of 2011 the federal government’s total financial liabilities ($61 trillion) were more than the household net worth of all Americans combined ($58.5 trillion). In other words, if the federal government used tax policy to take every dollar in net worth from all Americans – from Bill Gates to every middle-income Utahn – it would still need another $2.5 trillion (more than $8,000 for every person in the U.S.) to pay its obligations.

And putting a human face on these numbers, specifically numbers in the graph at the upper right – approximately 20 percent of funding of the state’s school districts; 30 percent of all state funding; 25 percent of Utah’s economy – it is both mathematically sound and morally correct that the Legislature and governor support the Financial Ready Utah enterprise risk management process and urge your vote in favor of this bill.

Thank you.

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