Cox’s first budget proposal includes $250 million for COVID-19 response
Governor Spencer Cox released his $21.7 billion budget proposal Monday for FY 2022. The proposal emphasizes “opportunity for all” and focuses largely on education and the COVID-19 response.
The budget allocates $250 million to Utah’s COVID-19 response efforts. These funds will be dedicated to assisting public health partners, households, businesses and schools.
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“Conquering COVID is our number one priority at present, but we must also look toward a bright horizon,” Cox said. “These long-term investments in our children and our infrastructure will help us now and long into the future. We look forward to working with the Legislature as we find the best ways to serve Utahns and this budget is the start.”
As a result of the stricter spending rules implemented by the Legislature last summer in response to the pandemic, the state has accumulated $728 million in ongoing additional revenue and $1.268 billion in one-time revenue. The budget also includes an $80 million tax cut returned to Utahns.
Public education will receive the highest amount of funding at $4.2 billion. This includes $112 million for educator bonuses and $22.5 million for the Teacher and Student Success Program. The proposal also fully funds education commitments under Constitutional Amendment G, the passage of which allowed taxes to be used for education and individuals with disabilities.
Higher education is allocated $1.3 billion. Forty million dollars of these funds will go toward establishing a higher education innovation fund, $38.7 million will fund the Bridgerland Technical College Health Science and Technology building and $35 million will be reserved for a flexible increase for institutional priorities.
Upskilling initiatives will receive $125 million, which will be used to help unemployed Utahns find jobs. This includes $20 million to help Utahns struggling to find work, $49 million for technical education and $56 million for higher education and K-12 funds, which will increase cooperation between schools and employers.
Other long-term economic investments include $350 million to double-track FrontRunner, $50 million for Wasatch Canyons transportation and $125 million for open space, trails and parks.
There are significant investments in the state’s rural community, with $125 million allocated to rural infrastructure like broadband and electric vehicle charging stations.
The budget also includes $2.2 billion for corrections, public safety and justice as well as $1.2 billion for Medicaid and other social services. The budget will go into effect later this year, pending changes and approval by the Legislature, which convenes on Jan. 19th.