Ending Earmarks

06 January 2016 Written by  

Utah’s state budget has seen a veritable explosion of earmarks over the past decade.


This trend is detrimental to the state for several reasons:Annual Level of general fund earmarks

  1. By creating an ongoing, multi-year diversion of over half a billion dollars, earmarks undermine the annual process of re-evaluating and re-balancing priorities to address the state’s ever-changing needs.
  2. The earmarks divert revenues from their previously intended purposes, which have suffered greatly as a result:
    • education
    • mental health treatment
    • substance abuse treatment
    • criminal justice
    • aid to the needy and disabled
  3. The earmarks are unfunded earmarks, in the sense that they were created to support newly identified public investment needs, mostly in the area of transportation, but they were necessary only because no new revenue sources were identified to finance the newly identified public investment needs.  In fact, we have allowed Utah’s public revenues to fall to a 20-year low, forcing us to “rob Peter to pay Paul” rather than set aside the money needed to support the public investments that are vital to our future growth and prosperity.

In 2015 the Legislature convened the Tax Review Commission to review and make recommendations about the earmarking phenomenon.  The Tax Review Commission developed a set of criteria for evaluating earmarks according to best practices of public budgeting and recommended eliminating 95% of the existing earmarks.    

earmarks graph

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2016 Children's Fiscal Policy Agenda

What could the legislature do with the money of it weren't for the earmarks?
Read Top Ten Reasons to End the Earmarks.

Contact Lawmakers

  • For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.
  • How can you be involved?
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!
  • We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Matthew Weinstein 300Matthew Weinstein, State Priorities Partnership Director, joined the organization in 2014. As State Fiscal Policy Director, he conducts analysis and advocacy focused on the state budget from the perspective of what's best for Utah's children. He holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Political Science from Amherst College.