HJR 11: Zero-Based Budgeting Use in Legislative Subcommittees
This bill passed the House with a unanimous vote but failed in the Senate with a tied vote of 12-12.
Utah’s state budget has ballooned to over $16 billion a year. While some of that growth is tied to the growth of the population in Utah, much of it has to do with increased taxes which result in more unnecessary government programs, pet projects, and waste.
One idea has been floated for years to fix this problem: zero-based budgeting. The idea is quite simple. Instead of starting the budgeting process with last year’s budget and simply adding (and very rarely subtracting) to it, legislative committees would start fresh, from zero. The most important programs would be identified and funded first, thereby beginning to make it clear what programs are essential and what programs are not.
Instead of department heads coming and asking the legislature for a standard 2% increase, they would need to justify every dollar that they spend.
Representative Justin Fawson’s Joint Rules Resolution, HJR 11, encourages this practice by requiring every budgetary subcommittee to engage in zero-based budgeting on 20% of its budget every year, thus ensuring a thorough review of the entire state budget every five years.
This would be a solid step in the right direction to rein in unnecessary government spending and help legislators become more used to the concept of zero-based budgeting. Someday in the future zero-based budgeting might be used in every level of government in Utah every year.