Utah’s Budget Process

Maintaining Utah's competitive edge and quality of life requires the state to proactively manage and address the multiple demands being placed on limited resources⁠—the taxpayer dollar. Utah's growing and changing population and new dynamics in its revenue streams place an increased demand on everything from infrastructure to education and from natural resources to corrections.


overview

The state of Utah’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The fiscal year is commonly referred to using the latter of the two calendar years. For example, fiscal year 2022-23 is sometimes referred to as fiscal year 2023 or FY 2023. A timeline for the typical budget process is available at this link.

Prior to legislative general sessions, the governor proposes a budget to the legislature.

The state’s enacted budget is the sum of all items of appropriation contained in legislation. Items of appropriation authorize expenditures and include the following: the name of the agency and line item to which authorization is granted; and the sources of finance from which authorization is granted; and the amounts authorized. Items of appropriation also may include a schedule of programs; intent language; approved full-time equivalent employment; authorized capital outlay; and other conditions of appropriations.


REVENUE COLLECTIONS

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst (LFA) , and the Utah State Tax Commission gather and analyze revenue collection data on a monthly basis. The Monthly State Revenue Snapshot, which summarizes state revenue collections, can be found at the link below.


REVENUE FORECAST

In November of each year, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst and the Utah State Tax Commission revise the state’s revenue forecast and develop a new consensus revenue forecast for the upcoming fiscal year. The governor’s budget recommendations are based on this forecast. The consensus revenue forecast is also updated during the legislative general session. The economic indicator projections used in the consensus process are formed through the state's Revenue Assumptions Working Group, which is comprised of state economists and field experts from the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, Utah State Tax Commission, Utah Department of Workforce Services, and the University of Utah, among other representatives.


BUDGET PREPARATION

Each year, officials from public education, higher education, and state agencies submit two items to GOPB: planned expenditures for their base budget and budget change requests. Common budget requests include costs associated with population growth, inflationary increases, and federal mandates. GOPB works with agencies to develop budget proposals that drive the best investment and use of Utah's resources.

After analyzing anticipated revenues, base budgets, and new budget requests, GOPB assists the governor in preparing final budget recommendations.  The governor’s budget recommendations are summarized in the Governor’s Budget Recommendation Book. The governor delivers his budget message and transmits his budget recommendations to the legislature through the legislature’s staff budget office, the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst (LFA).


BUDGET APPROVAL AND ADOPTION

Thirty days prior to each general legislative session, the LFA, by statute, receives the governor's budget recommendations. The LFA is required to review this executive budget before the legislature convenes and to make recommendations and comments to the legislature on each item or program.

To enact law, including a budget bill, the legislature must pass an identical bill in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Utah is unique in that the Appropriations Committee is composed of the entire legislature. The Appropriations Committee is divided into joint House and Senate appropriations subcommittees by topic, such as Public Education, Higher Education, Social Services, etc. After the LFA receives the governor’s budget recommendations, it analyzes the recommendations and prepares its own recommendations for the legislature and its appropriation subcommittees.

The appropriation subcommittees analyze the budgets within their assigned topic area and submit their final recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC). The Executive Appropriations Committee receives the recommendations from the joint appropriations subcommittees, makes final budgetary decisions to balance the budget, and directs the LFA to prepare appropriations bills. The appropriations bills are debated and the House of Representatives and the Senate pass the budget bills.

The LFA prepares an appropriations report annually that summarizes the actual enacted budget.


Budget Implementation and Execution

After the legislature passes the budget bills, the governor decides whether or not to sign the bills. Once a bill is signed by the governor, it goes into effect on the date specified in the bill. State agencies use the funding provided to them in the budget to carry out their responsibilities. Details on agency budgets, missions, and programs are available in the LFA's Compendium of Budget Information (COBI), which can be accessed here. An overall state of Utah organizational chart with links to each entity's budget information can be found here.

Because the state budget is a representation of appropriations (authorization to expend funds), the state budgets on modified accrual basis, consistent with how government funds are reported in the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report ACFR. The ACFR and other financial reports can be accessed here.