Big Boost To Education In Governor’s Budget Proposal

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In his first state budget proposal, new Utah Gov. Spencer Cox emphasized creating opportunity in all parts of the state by increasing funding for education and supporting rural initiatives.

“This budget represents our best thinking on how to use the state’s budget resources to position Utah for long-term prosperity and quality of life,” Cox wrote in a letter accompanying the 118-page proposal.

Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson traveled to Cedar City on Monday to unveil the budget from their new rural area office located on the campus of Southern Utah University.

Cox said the guiding theme for the $21.7 billion budget is “Let’s Go, Utah: Opportunity For All.”

“There’s a reason this is our focus because even with the success that we are experiencing overall as a state it’s clear that some are not experiencing the same successes or even have the same opportunity,” Cox said during a virtual press conference.

The proposal includes $250 million for Utah’s response to the ongoing pandemic, $350 million to double-track FrontRunner and $125 million for rural infrastructure.

(KSL-TV)

“Conquering COVID is our number one priority at present, but we must also look toward a bright horizon,” Cox said.

The state cut back on spending last summer because of the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

“That prudence has resulted in substantial available revenue, with the state projecting $728 million in ongoing additional education/general fund revenue and $1.268 billion in one-time revenue available,” the governor’s office said in a press release.

For education, the plan calls for $112 million for bonuses for teachers and staff and a 5.82{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} increase in the value of the weighted pupil unit, which equates to $248.3 million in ongoing education funding and $48.3 million in one-time funding.

“This increase should allow school districts and charter schools to provide meaningful pay increases to teachers who are absolutely critical to students’ success,” Cox said. “I cannot overemphasize how essential teachers are to our state’s long-term success.”

In response, the Utah Education Association released a statement saying it supports and applauds the governor’s budget recommendation.

“On behalf of Utah teachers, we express appreciation to the governor and the Utah legislature for their willingness to prioritize our students and our public schools,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews. “Our educators are doing remarkable work in extraordinary circumstances. The bonuses for all school employees are a recognition of those efforts.”

Another area of focus is making sure state employees’ paychecks are competitive. The proposal seeks to reinstate cost-of-living increases and provide funding for targeted pay increases in critical areas.

“A number of employee classifications are 20 to 30{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} below market wages and we’re having a really difficult time attracting and retaining employees,” Henderson said.

Other budget highlights include $50 million for transportation improvements in the Wasatch canyons; $125 million for trails and open space; and an $80 million tax cut in the form of a Social Security tax credit and an increase to Utah’s existing tax credit for dependents.

Next Post

Dr David Coleman: Parents need to be realistic about homeschooling. If you can only carve out an hour a day, that’s enough

Wed Jan 13 , 2021
What a challenging start to 2021 for parents and children. Nobody was happy with last week’s announcement that schools would resume, but not physically reopen, this week. We had already adjusted to the longer Christmas holidays, cobbling together some kind of childcare arrangements for last week, but now we face […]