“Look to Utah, Mr. President”


Near Red Castle Lake, in Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness Area




Lake Powell, in southern Utah


Posted from Tallahassee, Florida



  • Brock Lesnar

    This was an interesting article, but it didn’t address the 900 lbs gorilla in Utah’s living room.

    Approximately 45% of Utah’s total state revenues come from the federal government. Far more than such big government, and liberal states like New York, Massachusetts, California, etc. The simple truth is, Utah is a welfare state and is kept afloat financially by the federal government.

    Once known for its self-reliant, industrious, and independent people, Utah has become somewhat indistinguishable from other poorer states who similarly feed at the federal trough. State Republican and Democratic leaders have both been unwilling to make hard decisions that would cut our dependence on federal dollars.

    The economic future of our state looks grim unless Utah is willing to go into rehab to kick the crack habit, also known as federal funding.

    In the meantime, at least we have clean air and mild winters!!

    • DanielPeterson

      Don’t forget that the federal government owns between 57.5% and 63% of Utah’s land. Only Nevada (or, in some reckonings, Nevada followed by Alaska) ranks higher in percentage of federal ownership.

    • woodstove23

      I don’t understand where you are getting your numbers. Because the table sumarized here tells a different story:

      I even checked all the number for 2012 in the sources for the column headers in that table. It does indeed show that Utah’s federal spending is approximately 10.1% of the total GDP for the state (which by the way is less than New York, Massachusetts, and California). This makes Utah the 4th lowest spender-to-GDP state in the union. Not only that, but looking at the numbers for 2013 so far – Utah spent 12% fewer federal dollars than it did in 2012 (11.5B vs 13.1B).

      I fully understand the drive to be self-sufficient. And especially the drive to not want to get aid from higher up in an organization, least of all the federal government (top-down vs. bottom-up thinking). But one thing to remember is that the federal government owns a lot of land in Utah (military, national parks, etc.)

      Given the numbers above with the amount of federal assets, it sure looks like Utah is doing quite well self-sufficiently, even though many want to be more so.

      And I agree, we should be more so.

      • Brock Lesnar

        Woodstove, actually Utah gets approximately 45.3% (at least as of 2013) from the government. This places Utah as the 14th most most dependent state on federal dollars.

        Also, for the year 2013, federal funds made up approximately 33% of Utah’s entire budget.

        In short, Utah is one of the most financially dependent states for federal dollars. We are screwed unless we get a handle on this, and right away!




        • woodstove23

          Ah, you are right. You are using ‘revenue’ while I used ‘GDP’. Thank you for the sources (I checked them).

          I still come to a different conclusion, however, based on two other data points:

          1. A larger portion of Utah’s revenue comes from federal funding because Utah collects less overall revenue (read: lower taxes)

          2. The federal government took in $13.528119 B in revenue from Utah in 2010 (See: http://www.irs.gov/file_source/pub/irs-soi/12db05co.xls [there are a lot of good spreadsheets in that base web directory]). This means that Utah got back 54.2% ($7.332975 B / $13.528119 B)

          I still agree with you that we need to be more self-sufficient, but I disagree that Utah is a welfare state when the data say the opposite: they give more than they take, and do more with less. (And honestly, I’m suprised that the firm who put out the report you cite didn’t show this other data – which is usually indicative of a specific agenda instead of learning pure knowledge.)

          There’s another problem to consider about which I will illustrate with an example – keeping everything else equal, but pretending that only 10% of Utah’s revenue was from the federal government. This means with (keeping in 2010′s data) Utah’s non-federal revenue of 8.862224 B would be 90% of the total, which gives total federal money received at $0.984691 B. This means that Utah would only get back 7.3% of what it gave ($0.984691 B / $13.528119 B).

          There’s a word for this: Oppression. (And I’m not meaning to be radical.)

          This means Utah would have to reduce services everywhere, or raise taxes significantly. Raising taxes wouldn’t be bad if the citizens paid Utah instead of the federal government. And I bet they wouldn’t even have to raise to the same level of taxes, as reducing top-down government always yields less overhead.