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Governor Cox Announces 2024 Utah Budget Recommendations

Governor Cox3/15/23 | Stan Sorensen, Chief Marketing Officer
Governor Cox released his FY2024 budget recommendations in December 2022.
As the current legislative session comes to a close, Utahns should take notice of the difference between the Governor’s recommendations and what the legislature ultimately approves.

But a reading of the recommendations gives insight into what Governor Cox considers the state’s priorities.

Governor Cox recommends a total budget of $28.4B. That total includes spending on three priorities worth looking at further: (1) a tax cut, (2) education spending, and (3) water infrastructure with a portion for preserving the Great Salt Lake.

Tax Cuts: Taxpayer Tax Credit, State Income Tax and Property Tax Surplus

Governor Cox’s recommends tax cuts that add up to $1.3B over 3 years.
This includes $300M in new, ongoing cuts; a $574M one-time cut; and lowering the state income tax by 10 basis points (bps) to 4.75% from the current 4.85%.
The income tax reduction is getting the most attention and will have the greatest impact on individuals and families in middle- and upper-income brackets as those in lower income brackets should qualify for the Taxpayer Tax Credit.

The budget also recommends a one-time property tax reduction. This reduction is possible because the increased property valuations over the past couple years led to the state collecting $127M more in property taxes than forecasted.

How can the Governor propose tax cuts during a turbulent economy? The property tax surplus helped lead to a $1.255B budget surplus. And the State’s growing population has increased income tax revenue beyond forecast.

Education: Utah Teacher Compensation, Full-Day Kindergarten and College Tuition Freeze

The Governor’s budget recommends spending $200.7M to increase salary and benefits for Utah teachers and classroom specialists. The teacher compensation increase was passed as part of HB215, referred to as the school voucher bill. That bill included a salary increase of $4,200 benefits of $1,800 per teacher/specialist, for a total of $6,000.

Governor Cox also recommends spending $70.7M to help students who are at risk of failing academically; and $40.8M to fund all-day kindergarten.

To help post-secondary students the Governor has called for all state colleges and universities to freeze tuition.

Water Conversation: Utah Drought and Great Salt Lake Water Levels

The Governor’s budget recommendation includes $561M for water infrastructure, conservation, planning and management, and agricultural water optimization to invest in combating drought, along with investments to protect and manage the Great Salt Lake.

The recommendation specifies $132.9M for Great Salt Lake rehabilitation. Rehabilitating the lake will include working to enhance water flows, improve management, educating the public, preserving critical ecosystems, and optimizing salinity levels.

Additionally, the budget includes a proposed $100M to secure short term agricultural water rights leases in the Great Salt Lake watershed, adding $25M to the Great Salt Lake Water Trust, and setting aside $160k to study air quality impacts of the dust from the exposed lakebed.

Governor’s Office of Planning & Budget

Governor Cox’s recommended budget reflects the mission of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget to “drive the best investment and use of Utah’s resources.”
How will Utah’s 2024 budget unfold? Will legislators agree? Will they vote another way? Stay informed of the latest Utah planning and budget information news as legislators make their decisions.

Stan Sorensen is Chief Marketing Officer at Altabank. He joined the bank in 2019, and has previous marketing and leadership experience in software and healthcare. When Stan is not in the office, he enjoys spending time in mountains.