ANTELOPE ISLAND STATE PARK, Utah – Facing the sharply receding Great Salt Lake, Governor Spencer Cox unveiled a $ 25 billion state budget that includes more than half a billion in spending on water conservation measures and a $ 160 million grocery tax credit.
The state takes advantage of federal stimulus funds under the American Rescue Plan Act to fund certain large projects.
Governor Cox sidestepped legislative wishes for an income tax cut in favor of a $ 160 million “grocery tax credit”, allowing families to claim a refund on their grocery purchases. ‘grocery store.
“This is a proposal that will benefit families with children,” he said.
FOX 13 first reported the Governor was considering it last month. He argued that it would actually benefit those in the lower end of the income credit.
The state also promises to seek out those who may not earn enough income taxes to get the credit, the governor’s office of planning and budget said.
The governor’s office prefers the grocery tax credit to a income tax reduction proposal that Republican legislative leaders have put forward.
The governor’s spending priorities were unveiled in his first budget since his election last year. A governor can propose a budget, but the Utah state legislature passes one.
Governor Cox is proposing big spending demands, including $ 520 million for water conservation and infrastructure as the state continues to fight drought. Expenses include:
- $ 46 million to help protect and preserve the habitat of the Great Salt Lake, a major contributor to the entire northern Utah ecosystem
- $ 25 million for Lake Utah conservation and management efforts
- $ 50 million for agricultural water optimization to ensure farmers and ranchers use best practices to conserve water (they are the state’s largest water user)
- $ 200 million for secondary water meters, which will track and eventually bill users for the amount of outdoor watering they perform
- $ 90 million for improved drinking water statewide
- $ 1.5 million for homeowner sod removal programs, get people to ditch their lawns for desert-friendly landscaping
The amount is far more than the $ 100 million the legislature appropriated earlier this year.
Regarding other environmental initiatives, the governor asked for $ 3 million to expand electric vehicle charging options across the state, an additional $ 4.7 million for improved quality monitoring. air on the Wasatch Front and $ 46 million for transit projects.
Education occupies a large part of the state budget. The governor’s proposed education budget includes $ 550 million for K-12 schools, including a 5% weighted student unit (the formula often used to account for teacher salaries). In a surprise move, the governor is proposing to eliminate tuition fees from public schools statewide. It is a decision that will cost the state $ 55 million. It also offers:
Governor Cox proposes to spend an additional $ 228 million on affordable housing projects (including so-called “very affordable” housing that targets the homeless, including allowing more “small houses”), $ 141 million for “The Point,” a massive development planned on the site of the former Utah State Prison in Draper and Bluffdale. Government employees will see their wages and benefits increase, especially public safety. It also plans to extend parental leave for state employees.
The Governor’s Planning and Budget Office is also recommending $ 10 million for the public health response, but is also setting aside $ 100 million “just in case” as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.
An additional $ 144 million will be pumped into upgrading the state’s technology as the Cox administration takes a closer look at telecommuting. State liquor stores will see technological improvements in the governor’s budget. As a sign of the governor’s support, his office budgeted $ 3.2 million for implement online ordering at state-run liquor stores, also known as “click & collect”.
This is breaking news. Updates to FOX 13 and fox13now.com as more information becomes available.