UTAH, Dec. 7, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Spencer J. Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson unveiled their proposed fiscal year 2023 budget on Tuesday on Antelope Island.
Their proposal highlights investments in education and infrastructure (including water and affordable housing) while also providing $160 million in tax relief to Utahns through a grocery tax credit, says a statement released by Cox’s office.
“Grounded in our One Utah Roadmap, this is a budget that reflects our conservative values by investing in our people, expanding education opportunities and supporting families,” Gov. Cox says in the prepared statement.
Federal stimulus funds along with a robust economy are bringing an additional $1.16 billion to the ongoing state general fund and education fund budget with another $1.87 billion of one-time general fund and education funds available, the statement says.
While 40% of these funds are earmarked for education, social services and reserve funds, Cox supports making generational investments to benefit future Utahns while providing tax relief to residents now.
According to an analysis from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, a grocery tax credit would give more money back to lower- and middle-income households than cutting the food tax would. For example, cutting the food tax would result in a $185 benefit for a two-parent household with six kids, while our proposed grocery tax credit would provide a $400 benefit.
For a single parent with two children making $20,000 a year, cutting the food tax rate would give that family an extra $85 while our grocery tax credit would provide a $240 benefit.
Cox also supports major investments in water planning and infrastructure following the dire drought conditions Utah has experienced over the past year. At an amphitheater on Antelope Island, Gov. Cox highlighted the challenges facing the Great Salt Lake and its importance to the state’s ecosystem. His budget proposed a $45 million investment on top of the $5 million already invested by the Legislature to preserve the Great Salt Lake. The governor also proposed $600,000 to update the lake’s management plan, which would dedicate a total of $51 million toward protecting this treasure.
With Utah named as the fastest growing state in the nation, Gov. Cox also proposed several measures aimed at managing growth, including $100 million for developing affordable housing, $128 million for housing targeting the homeless and efforts to improve air quality including multimodal transportation projects, electric vehicle charging stations and expanded air quality monitoring stations.
For education, Gov. Cox put forward a $976 million investment, with $556 million going to K-12 schools and $420 million funneled to higher education. These measures aim to improve outcomes for at-risk students, eliminate K-12 school fees, add mental health resources on college campuses and expand opportunities for adult workers to retrain and upskill.