Sen. Hillyard interested to see how Gov. Herbert will handle tight budget

Today is Inauguration Day on Utah’s Capitol Hill, the day Lt. Governor Gary Herbert moves up to Governor as Jon Huntsman, Jr. resigns to becomes the new Ambassador to China. State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, says he’s happy with Herbert’s choice of Senator Greg Bell, R-Farmington, as his Lieutenant Governor, although he will miss Bell in the Senate. Hillyard says he agrees with those who believe Herbert will be more conservative than Governor Huntsman. ” I think he is,” Hillyard says, and points to some comments Herbert has made recently that prove that. “His statement early on about global warming at the National Governors Association, he got some publicity (for that).” But Hillyard is waiting to see how Herbert will do once in office when faced with important budget decisions. “The test to me is really going to be what direction he’s wants to give us as we go into January session,” Hillyard said. “If he’s pushing for a tax increase to cover this four percent, or whatever the percent ought to be, or whether he’s just saying take further cuts, I think that’s really going to be the telling tale.” As co-chairman of the Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee, Hillyard says one of Herbert’s major challenges will be how to deal with another extremely tight budget in January. Hillyard says if figures that come in by mid-September show revenues down by more than $50 million, there will probably be pressure for Herbert to call a special session of the Legislature. “I’m just projecting now,” Hillyard says, “with just the preliminary figures I have, that in addition to the cuts implemented this year, if we were to use all the rainy day fund, all the other funds, there still would be about another four percent cut this year we’d have to implement. So I think a real telling test is going to come with Governor Herbert as to whether he wants to increase taxes to cover that difference, or if he wants to make cuts, and if so where.” Hillyard says there would not be enough votes in the legislature to overcome a veto so the new governor will control the ship.

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