Lawmakers add more than $2 billion to Utah’s budget. How do they plan to spend your tax dollars?

Tax cuts, training funding and water conservation are high spending priorities.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The solar units on the Utah Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.

Late Friday, legislative leaders added greater than $2 billion in spending to Utah’s price range for the subsequent fiscal yr, bringing the general price ticket to $24 billion. The spending spree consists of greater than $500 million in ongoing funding and $1.5 million in one-time spending.

The seven appropriations subcommittees spent the primary three weeks of the 2022 session reviewing budgets and requests for funding which they used to make their spending suggestions. Funds leaders then used these precedence funding lists to make the price range selections launched on Friday night time.

All the last spending selections made by the Govt Appropriations Committee have been made out of the general public’s view with little or no public dialogue.

It wasn’t simply the general public stored at midnight on these budgeting selections. Most lawmakers noticed the funding checklist for the primary time on Friday afternoon. Home and Senate Republicans obtained their first look throughout lunchtime caucus conferences. Democrats obtained their first glimpse shortly earlier than afternoon ground time.

Friday morning Home Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, solely spoke in generalities about price range selections as a result of they weren’t public but.

“We’ve taken a number of the ongoing cash that was a part of our new income estimates, and we’ve set it apart to both put together for some potential tough occasions financially sooner or later or possibly a future tax minimize,” he mentioned, relating to whether or not the battle in Ukraine will impression the state price range. “There’s some issues we’re doing to attempt to make actually prudent monetary selections and put together for the unknown.”

Lawmakers plan to spice up per-pupil funding in Utah’s public colleges by about 6%. Earlier than the session, legislative leaders put aside $72 million. Friday’s spending checklist included one other $124.6 million.

Total, legislative leaders added 9% to the general public training price range on Friday night time. The spending consists of $12 million to broaden elective all-day kindergarten, which is lower than the $22.7 million requested by the appropriations committee for public training.

Lawmakers took a extra vital enhance in training funding off the desk earlier this yr by speeding by a $193 million revenue tax minimize bundle within the first half of this yr’s session. These cuts, which largely favor bigger households and higher-income Utahns, are paid for out of the Training Fund.

Friday’s price range proposal added $168 million in ongoing funds to public training, which is lower than the $193 million they put towards tax aid.

The Social Companies price range consists of $55 million in one-time funding for a deeply inexpensive housing program. That’s lower than half the $127 million the Social Companies Appropriations Subcommittee prioritized on its spending checklist. Federal funding from the COVID-19 aid packages handed by Congress could make up the distinction.

Curiously, the Social Companies funding checklist consists of $15 million for “housing preservation.” The precedence checklist from the appropriations committee didn’t have that funding request. Past the imprecise title, there’s no info on the place the appropriation got here from or how will probably be used.

The price range proposal consists of a number of expenditures for water conservation. There’s $200 million for secondary water metering, $30 million for Bear Lake preservation and $40 million to assist protect the Nice Salt Lake.

The Legislature added greater than $2 million to their price range for subsequent yr. The Utah Home added $1.29 million to the Home with one other $783,900 for the Senate. There’s little or no element on how the Home funding shall be spent. The price range proposal solely mentions “crucial staffing” and bettering areas within the Capitol. The Senate funding enhance consists of three full-time salaries and $100,000 for bettering the Senate lounge space.

The ultimate price range selections shall be made subsequent week earlier than the session adjourns on Friday at midnight.

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