Governor Herbert has thrown a wrench into water salesmen’s plans to hijack education funding for water development in the 2016 Legislature. The Governor’s new budget for 2016 proposes to increase funding for education and bring sanity to the way Utah manages water.
The Governor acknowledges that Utah, as the nation’s highest per person water user, has a long way to go in it’s water conservation efforts and wants to make it a priority to see that conservation and other alternatives come before massive spending for the Lake Powell Pipeline and Bear River Project.
“Out of respect to the taxpayer, it is recommended that the State of Utah only allocate very scarce General Fund resources to financing major water projects after all other alternatives are exhausted (similar to how other budget requests are treated) and the significant concerns raised in the recent legislative audit on water are resolved.”
The Governor has clearly been listening to years of criticism from the URC and 3 separate analyses from scores of Utah economists on the catastrophic financial impacts from the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline on water rates and impact fees. The Governor acknowledges that the Division of Water Resources has no real repayment plan to pay for the Lake Powell Pipeline.
The Governor believes Lake Powell Pipeline proponents should have a plan—as opposed to just lip service—for how they will repay Utah taxpayers for the debt from the pipeline. They also need to examine the impacts to water rates and impact fees before committing money for the construction.
This seems like a pretty simple request, but for years the water industry salesmen have been conning Utah taxpayers into turning the Lake Powell Pipeline into a non-refundable taxpayer gift.
“Under the proposal, the State of Utah’s General Fund would never be repaid and the ongoing allocation of tax revenues would create a permanent sizable state taxpayer subsidy for water development.”
Herbert made it very clear the General Fund should not be paying for the massive pipeline and his budget recommends that Utah not take over the role of the federal government in providing massive subsidies for water projects that are never fully repaid.