Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson unveiled their budget recommendations and priorities for Fiscal Year 2023. The proposal asks the legislature to provide nearly a billion additional dollars for education, $556 million for K-12 and $420 million in higher education funding.
For K-12, the proposed spending includes the elimination of student curricular fees, a $22.8 million increase for full-day kindergarten over the next three years, and a 2.4% increase in the weighted pupil unit (WPU) over inflation. The inflation component for the WPU is estimated at 2.6% for the next year.
The 2022 UEA Legislative Priorities call for “at least a 5% increase on the WPU, for a total WPU increase of approximately 7.5% after inflation.” In addition, the UEA priorities ask legislators to enhance funding for students at-risk of academic failure, to expand optional full-day kindergarten and to fund educator-directed flexible preparation and collaboration time for all licensed educators.
“We applaud the Governor’s proposed investments in at-risk students and funding full-day kindergarten,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews. “When I talk with educators around the state, I consistently hear ‘it’s about time.’ Our educators say they need time to properly review student assessment data, time to reflect on individual student needs and time to collaborate with colleagues. We ask the governor and legislators to recognize these needs and to support the UEA’s request to provide $60 million in ongoing funding for educator-directed, flexible preparation and collaboration time for all licensed educators.”
Gov. Cox’s budget proposal also includes tax cuts worth $160 million in what the administration is calling a “grocery tax credit” to help Utah families with rising food costs. The grocery tax credit, according to Cox, is targeted toward families and low- and moderate-income households and is an equitable alternative to an income tax reduction or slashing sales tax on food.
The governor and administration officials said the proposed rebate would be based on tax filings and that the Department of Workforce Service could help identify non-filers who qualify for the refund. They added that the frequency for the rebate could also be multiple times a year.