The 2011 session of the Utah Legislature opened Monday, Jan. 24 and State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, says it is going to be another tight budget year. Hillyard is co-chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee and he says the first week should be a little easier than the last two years because at least things are not starting out “in the hole” but rather there is $ 312 million in one-time money.On Saturday, Hillyard said about 14,000 new students are expected in the public education system which means it would cost $60-$70 million to fund the growth.”So we’re trying to find some money for that,” Hillyard said. “And there’s also growth in everything else: Health and Human Services, higher education, corrections, public safety. “All of those issues have the same demand. We think there’s about $350 million we need to find if we just fund growth.”Hillyard says immigration is an issue that will also take up a lot of the lawmakers’ time.”I really appreciate what President (Michael) Waddoups is trying to do in the Senate, of trying to get an omnibus bill so we can get together the issues that we all pretty well agree on,” Hillyard continued. “There’s some issues we agree on, immigration, and I think we can implement those. “Rather than have 20 issues, five of which we agree to and then end up having them all tied up together, and controversial and nothing pass, or something pass that has tied to it something that you may want but others that you don’t like, I like that approach.”Hillyard says he does not know whether or not that will work because there is so much emotion involved with the immigration issues.Hillyard encourages people to follow what the legislature is doing on the Internet. He also encourages local residents to attend the continental breakfasts where people get a chance to talk to local lawmakers on Saturdays. They will be at the Cache County Council chambers each Saturday at 7:30 a.m. to answer questions and hear the concerns of constituents.
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