DALLAS - Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has signed bills authorizing $115 million of revenue bonds for nine state buildings and another that makes technical changes in general obligation bond authorization.
Both bills were passed by the legislative session that ended March 12. Lawmakers approved an $11.2 billion state budget that reduced outlays by more than $1 billion.
SB 5, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, allows use of revenue bonds issued by the State Building Ownership Authority and the State Board of Regents for construction of buildings for state offices and universities.
SB 201 authorizes GOs for state buildings and makes changes in the funding formula. Bonds issued in the first year of the authorization will have six-year repayment periods and debt service of $20.4 million per year and first-year interest cost of $2.3 million.
Huntsman also signed SB 260, known as the Housing Relief Restricted Special Revenue Fund, which directs the Utah Housing Corp. to begin dispersing $6,000 grants from federal stimulus money to 1,600 homebuyers purchasing a newly constructed home.
The bill was seen as a way to reduce the number of unsold homes in the state and help the 18,000 unemployed construction workers there.
"This is an immediate stimulus targeted at the weakest area of Utah's economy," Huntsman said. "This investment of $10 million will result in 8,800 jobs in the market and $324 million in wages into our economy. This boost is critical for us to reverse our current position."
Huntsman is also directing $1.8 million of discretionary federal stimulus money to provide foreclosure prevention and mitigation services through the Department of Community and Culture. Foreclosures have doubled since 2007 to 15,000 homes this year.
To balance the budget this year, lawmakers cut more than $1 billion in spending. But more than $600 million in federal stimulus funds helped reduce the pain for some spending areas such as education.
At the opening of the 2009 session in January, lawmakers expected to cut as much as 14% from Medicaid amid a 10% growth in enrollment. Those cuts would have followed a 3% reduction in September. But the stimulus package restored all eligibility cuts and allowed the state to maintain existing funding levels.