Gov. Gary Herbert’s Office announced the revenue projections Monday: An estimated $280 million from taxes on a growing economy, plus a one-time surplus of $128 million. "When you consider what is happening nationally or in other states, the steady drum beat of positive economic news in Utah is certainly encouraging," Herbert, who will release his budget proposal next month, said in a statement.
Despite the good economic news, the swelling budget will just barely cover an estimated $280 million growth in state programs, according to Ron Bigelow, the governor’s budget director. "We’re going to try and fund a few little things here and there, but if you take health and human services and education, there’s not going to be a whole lot left over," Bigelow said.
About 12,500 new students are expected to enter Utah schools, costing the state about $50 million. Enrollment in health insurance for children and the poor is growing, with costs for that program and services for people with disabilities expected to grow by between $100 million and $140 million, as well. The state has also funded ongoing programs with about $52 million of money that will lapse at the end of the year. Filling that gap is a top priority with the new money.