Utah lawmakers so far are resisting further dips into the state's rainy day fund and the state's overall approach to budget and policy making continues to earn kudos from independent analysts.
In 2008, the Pew Center on the States called Utah "the best managed state" in the nation. Utah got a A- (so did Washington) in the sober, technical Pew study. Idaho, by contrast was back in the pack with Wyoming with a B- grade. Nevada, Montana and Oregon got gentlemanly C+ grades.
One reason Utah scored so high in this analysis was the management systems instituted during the governorship of Jon Huntsman. Huntsman, who recently resigned as U.S. ambassador to China in order to reportedly launch a Republican presidential bid, instituted a number of wonkish, but effective management approaches that impressed the Pew folks.
Here's some of what was said: "Utah manages all facets of state government well, emphasizing long-term goals and performance outcomes. The executive and legislative branches work together effectively to align expenditures with the strategic direction of the state. Utah has also changed the organizational structure of agencies in order to ensure success, embedding human resources and information technology staff in every state agency to better assist with long term management needs."
The Pew study concludes with this about Utah: "In sum, routine, evidence- and process-driven review has enabled one Mountain West state to catch an incipient structural deficit early and act intentionally to rectify it before it becomes entrenched."
Words to budget - and make policy - by.