House Speaker Brad Wilson

Cultural Community Call Recap for April 20

This week’s call included Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, discussing the special session and other topics. Other guests included Maria Sykes, the director of Epicenter in Green Rive, and Jocelyn Scudder, executive director of the Park City Summit County Arts Council.

These sessions are held every Monday. You can find more information and register for upcoming sessions on the Division of Arts & Museums website.

The full session is embedded at the bottom of this post. Some highlights from Wilson, who also answered a half-dozen questions:

Special session bills: The primary purpose of the special session was to address the immediate financial impacts. Covering shortfalls for the state will require up to $1 billion, Wilson said, and to prepare for that the Legislature has asked state agencies to plan on having the same budgets in fiscal year 2021 — which begins July 1 of this year — as they had in 2020.

Economic response: A new commission will provide recommendations for Gov. Gary Herbert for reopening the economy as quickly as possible. The commission will provide those recommendations this week and the governor will have to determine whether to accept the recommendations by the end of the month.

Rainy day funds: Because the fund has specific requirements — including a prohibition on using these funds for ongoing expenses — it is their last line of defense. Instead, legislators are looking at other sources of funds, including bonding for construction projects that they previously paid for with cash.

County hospitality taxes: There isn’t consensus about whether to allow hospitality taxes to support businesses that depend on tourism, as some have suggested. Wilson said it is likely they will consider proposed changes to those taxes in an upcoming special session.

The future: Reopening the economy will begin slowly, following the “dial” detailed in Utah Leads Together 2.0. There will be regional differences based on data, with some opening up sooner than others. Wilson emphasized that no specific plans can be made, especially when it comes to mass gatherings. He also expected the state will still be dealing with the virus throughout this year and into the first quarter of next year.