Government Affairs Update
February 18, 2022

There are just two weeks left of the 2022 legislative session, and while little time remains, there is plenty of work to be done! I’ll share a brief update of the work WFRC has been engaged in on the hill, and share what we can expect from the last two weeks of the 45-day session. 
Appropriations: Updated Consensus Revenue Estimates

Today, the Governor’s Office and Legislature released the revised consensus revenue estimates for Fiscal Year 2022 and 2023. The release shared that during the 2022 General Session, legislators have $617 million in one-time and $429 million in ongoing General Funds, as well as $1.68 billion one-time and $1.07 billion ongoing in the Education funds. In short, this means that the legislature has more revenues to appropriate than originally thought. This, in addition to existing surplus revenues and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that the state has left to obligate, leaves opportunity for legislators to make meaningful generational investments for Utah. Over the coming weeks, the Executive Appropriations Committee will finalize budget priorities within the parameters of these revenue estimates as they release their final funding lists and appropriation bills. Here is what the Governor, Speaker, and Senate President had to say about the updated estimates:

Utah’s robust economy continues to roar and these additional revenues give us a unique opportunity to improve lives as well as help secure Utah’s future. Still, given the current inflationary pressures and global uncertainties, we must proceed with caution and approach spending wisely. - Governor Spencer J. Cox

“We are taking steps to ensure our state can weather any financial or economic storm. Our budget prioritizes items that will better prepare us for future unknowns, including generational investments in transportation, water, infrastructure and education.” - President J. Stuart Adams

While I remain optimistic Utah’s economy will continue to flourish, we must be careful to not rely on one-time money to fund ongoing needs. The Legislature has demonstrated a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility by allowing Utahns to keep more of their hard earned money, increasing funding for education, and investing in significant projects that will have generational impacts.” - Speaker Brad Wilson

Appropriations: Funding Priorities & Advocacy

We have shared and continue to share WFRC’s funding priorities that WFRC and its partners are supporting on capitol hill. As a reminder, the following 6 priorities (in no particular order of importance), are under consideration by the legislature for funding. 

  1. $232 million to replace previously authorized FrontRunner bonds (This WFRC priority was funded in the base budget and will now allow the Transit Transportation Investment Fund to be freed up – rather than being obligated to debt service – for other transit projects throughout the state.
  2. $46 million for regionally important active transportation projects
  3. Funding to advance roadway projects as prioritized in Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan.
  4. Funding for transit investments, including at the Point of the Mountain
  5. $1.65 million ongoing funding for technical planning assistance 
  6. $1 million one-time to fund a statewide conversation on growth

With today’s released revenue estimates, and with positive discussions on capitol hill, we are hopeful in anticipating that the legislature will again make significant investment in multi-modal transportation infrastructure. To ensure that legislators not only consider, but understand the importance of these priorities, WFRC staff and leadership have been active on the hill in sharing information about these important investments. 

Earlier this week, South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey and Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini sent a formal request on behalf of WFRC and the Utah League of Cities and Towns to the Executive Appropriations Committee asking them to support the full appropriations request by GOPB to fund the $1.65M in ongoing funding for technical planning assistance, as well as the $1M one-time for a much-needed statewide planning for growth conversation with Utah residents. Mayor Ramsey is the president of the League, chair of WFRC's regional growth committee, and represents local governments on the Unified Economic Opportunity Commission (UEOC); Mayor Silvestrini serves as the chair of WFRC and the first vice president of the League – making them both outstanding voices for smart growth policy on behalf of local governments. In addition to their efforts, you can contact your legislators to ensure they are aware of this critical funding request from ULCT and WFRC.

Additionally, WFRC shared today with each member of the legislature the active transportation (AT) sign on letter, representing hundreds of signatories from public, private, and community stakeholders across Utah. The Letter, signed by many of you, respectfully urged the legislature to authorize an additional $46 million in active transportation funding for regionally important AT projects throughout the state. If you have yet to add your signature to the effort, click HERE to add your name in support of this effort. 

Legislation You Should Know About

Though only two weeks remain, WFRC, along with many of our partners, are taking final steps on some critical pieces of legislation which will soon be released. Several of these pending bills have been discussed by membership of WFRC and the Utah League of Cities and Towns in our various policy committees.

  • Station Area Plans (TBD) by Representative Steve Waldrip allows for maximizing the development potential in appropriate areas, through a collaborative process. The approach would allow cities, with the support of MPOs and UTA, to create plans around their transit station areas and would allow cities to determine how to meet shared objectives, but would not direct the specific approach or zoning. 
  • SB34+ (TBD) by Representative Steve Waldrip would make changes to moderate income housing plan requirements for cities, as established in SB34 from 2019. The intent of the bill is to ensure the tool is both useful and effective for local and state leaders in planning for moderate income housing in our local communities. 
  • SB 140 Housing and Transit Reinvestment Zones (HTRZ) by Senator Wayne Harper passed out of the Senate with a favorable recommendation, and now moves onto the House. You can find WFRC’s summary of the bill and its recent changes HERE.

Arguably, there are many other bills that you should know about. As a reminder, you can stay up to speed on the legislation that has either a direct or indirect impact to the work of WFRC and its partners with our WFRC 2022 Bill Tracker which is updated regularly. The tracker shares brief summaries, bill status, and recommended positions of “support”, “oppose”, or “neutral”. If you have any questions about the bills or the recommendations included, please feel free to contact me. You can also find the Utah League of Cities and Towns bill tracker HERE, and the Utah Association of Counties bill tracker HERE

As we enter the homestretch of this session, we are incredibly grateful for the great coordination between WFRC and our many partners. With a shared vision and determination to ensure Utah maintains a high quality of life amid the many challenges we face, our fellow transportation and planning partners, local government associations, and more are all working tirelessly alongside our elected officials. 

If we can ever answer any questions or be of any assistance to you as you navigate the political process, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Miranda Jones Cox