Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Message from State Representative Wimmer

Fellow Republicans,

We are two weeks away from the conclusion of the 2011 Utah Legislative Session, yet some of the most substantial pieces of legislation still lie ahead.  The purpose of this email is to inform you of a state constitutional amendment which would be a significant yet prescient change to state policy, and to solicit your feed-back.

Utah may be among the nation’s best managed states, and it may be poised to move forward in a recovering economy while many other states are in a prolonged crisis, but that doesn’t mean the Beehive State couldn’t benefit from some better rules.  According to information from the governor’s office, between 1990 and 2009 the state’s total budget grew 120 percent, and that is after adjusting for inflation. Without the inflation adjustment, state spending growth was a whopping 261 percent.   By comparison, Utah’s population over that same period grew only 62 percent, and median household income — a key consideration for government spending since every dollar the state spends starts out in taxpayers’ pockets — grew only 17 percent after adjusting for inflation.

Fortunately, Utah’s spending problem is not as dire as that of other states such as California. But even California’s state budget, adjusted for inflation, grew by a relatively modest 78 percent between 1990 and 2009.

Today’s significant, painful spending cuts in the face of the current recession are the result of Utah’s decades-long government spending spree.   As long as the state’s spending policies and practices remain unchanged, Utahns can continue to expect more of this cycle of euphoric spending growth followed by painful budget cuts.  More importantly, without reasonable changes to state spending policy, Utah risks ending up like California at some point in the future: standing on the brink of bankruptcy, with little choice but to ravage essential government services via dramatic spending cuts and/or to devastate the population and economy through crippling tax increases.  Political pressures magnify the spending temptation for public officials, which is why unadjusted state spending in Utah has grown more than four times as fast as the state population.

The key to avoiding California’s fate lies in enacting prudent, fiscally responsible changes to state spending policy in the Utah Constitution. These changes should: (1) create tough but reasonable restrictions on state spending growth in good times, while still maintaining flexibility for elected officials and government workers to do their jobs, and (2) save surplus revenues in preparation for bad financial times and for emergencies such as natural disasters.

I am currently sponsoring HJR37, which would limit the state’s budget each year to the previous year’s expenditures, with increases granted only for population growth and inflation. Any surplus funds would automatically go to the Rainy Day and emergency funds, and anything left over after those funds reached their statutory limits would be returned to the taxpayers.

In addition the  resolution would require the state to reduce its budget any time it passes on a requirement to a city, county or other political subdivision, putting an end to unfunded mandates that end up costing taxpayers twice as much while confusing the public, which tends to blame local government leaders for having to increase their share of taxes.

The bill would allow the state to override these restrictions with a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and a signature by the governor, thus allowing flexibility during a state crisis.

Utah already has a similar law in place to control the growth of cities, counties and other local governments. That law is even more restrictive, as it doesn’t allow for inflation. But a recent Utah Foundation report found that this law has succeeded in keeping spending by those governments under control.

This constitutional amendment is to be heard this week, and I am soliciting feed-back from Utah Republicans from all walks of life.  I want to hear from you.  Please email me at to give me your input and feedback in this important piece of legislation.  I would also encourage you to let your elected officials know how you feel as well.

Thank you,

Carl Wimmer, Utah State Representative

District 52



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