Utah Republicans to governor: no road funds to divert

| 2/12/2003

Republicans in the Utah Legislature say the money Gov. Mike Leavitt wants to extricate from highway construction to patch state budget shortfalls simply isn’t there, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. One Republican lawmaker called the plan “road robbing.”

The GOP House Caucus emphasized that money from the general fund was needed to make debt payments on completed road projects or projects under construction.

“The debts are already there,” House Majority Leader Greg Curtis (R-Sandy), told The Tribune. “We legally have to pay our debts.”

The money Leavitt wants to transfer “is not there,” said Curtis. Trying to spend it on programs would be like “those 12-months-free-interest deals.”

Natalie Gochnour, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, told the newspaper Leavitt’s plan to shift $84 million from highways back to general operations is practical: “We’re not putting any bond payment at risk.” She acknowledged, however, a possible effect on future budgets.