August 22, 2012 August Legislative Interim Summary
Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee:
Of most interest to Utah cities is the discussion over transportation funding. Provo Mayor John Curtis presented for discussion purposes a proposal to allow retiring city-issued road bond levies to be converted into a dedicated property tax levy for road maintenance. Discussion evolved from this particular proposal into a broader discussion of transportation funding – including gas tax and sales tax increases. The committee proposed meeting next month with the Transportation Interim Committee in a joint committee meeting to focus in more detail on transportation funding issues.
Political Subdivisions Interim Committee
This committee held a broader discussion on the issue of government competition with private enterprise. Representative Curt Webb, Committee Chair stated that his concern was to generally discuss the issue and no action would be taken. Representatives of Higher Education, Public Education and local government were asked to comment. Much of the discussion centered on efforts to privatize services. Roger Tew of the ULCT and Adam Troup of UAC spoke for local government. Roger pointed out many cities had undertaken serious privatization efforts and also noted that First and Second Class cities had complied with the competitive inventory legislation passed in 2008. He also emphasized that any type of bright-line test for what are appropriate governmental activities is highly problematic. He also emphasized that these policy decisions go to core of why cities and towns are governed by their own local decisions which may well differ between communities. The committee indicated that they may hold further hearings on the future but do not plan any particular legislation.
Transportation Interim Committee
The Transportation Interim committee discussed the Unified Transportation Bill, the recent federal transportation appropriation legislation (MAP 21), and corridor preservation. Leaders of Utah’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs; Andrew Gruber of Wasatch Front Regional Council and Andrew Jackson of Mountainland Association of Governments) testified to the committee about the financial demands for Utah’s transportation infrastructure, how the MPOs bring local leaders together to draft comprehensive transportation plans on a 4 year basis, and distributed the current Unified Transportation Plan to the committee. They pledged that Unified Transportation Plan would strengthen the economy, benefit the entire state Utah, maximize scarce resources, and demonstrate good stewardship over the land, money, and resources involved in the transportation system. Afterwards, Linda Hull of the Utah Department of Transportation briefed the committee about MAP-21 and its impact in Utah. The four-fold purpose of MAP-21 is to provide funding, consolidate programs, become performance based, and accelerate project delivery. Utah will receive $312 million in Fiscal Year 2012 and 2013 and $314 in Fiscal Year 2014. The bill also extended transportation-related taxes and fees through 2016. Finally, the committee reviewed Representative Brad Last’s proposal on corridor preservation options. Currently, if a city or town is located in a county that also is home to a metropolitan planning organization, but the city or town does not belong to the MPO, then that city or town cannot use corridor preservation fund money to set aside future transportation corridors. Currently, only the cities and towns that belong to the MPO can access the corridor preservation fund. Representative Last’s proposal would allow such cities and towns outside the MPO to use fund money for corridor preservation and utilize such resources for planning. The committee unanimously adopted the proposal as a committee bill and expect continued support from MPOs and quick passage during the 2013 session.