After weeks of presentations to Appropriations Committees and additional weeks of number crunching and negotiations, the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) unveiled the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2024 in the final days of the 2023 Legislative session.
As the dust settles, the EAC increased the ongoing budget by approximately $1,184,227,800 billion (the additional items can be found HERE and HERE). According to the previous year’s State of Utah Budget Book, that is an increase of about 12.6% over the last ongoing budget of $9,343,000. In addition to the base budget, they also spent approximately $4,251,092,700 billion on “one-time” items.
The largest increases in ongoing spending went to K-12 education. In addition to the budget set asides disclosed in December of $228 million for inflation and the education stabilization fund, the EAC added an additional $446 million for a total of more than $674 million. This funding included the salary increase for teachers proposed in HB 215 (with language ensuring the money is not siphoned off by administration), a hefty WPU increase, full-day kindergarten and much more.
That is record setting funding increase for education. Despite this fact, some will continue to perpetuate the ridiculous claim that the Legislature is not doing “enough” for education.Other ongoing spending amounts that were notable were in Higher Education and Infrastructure and General Government (IGG), which is often made up of spending on buildings. Also, the Legislature increased ongoing spending by $242 million for increased compensation for state employees.
In addition to the ongoing spending, the Legislature also spends “one-time” money, which is not put into the ongoing budget in future years. That amount totaled more than $4.2 billion this session. Some of the largest and most notable items in the one-time category were:
- $100 million – Fort Douglas Property Transfer
- $140 million – DABS Warehouse and Store Construction
- $56 million – Loa Fish Hatchery
- $110 million – Construction Inflation on Previous Projects
- $125 million – State Building Infrastructure Fund
- $108 million – The Point
- $144 million – Various University Buildings
- $440 million – Pay Down Transportation Debt
- $45 million – Statewide Trails Network
- $200 million – Commuter Rail Improvements
- $150 million – Cottonwood Canyons Transportation
- $800 million – Transportation Enhancements
- $200 million – Agricultural Water Optimization
- $64 million – Educator Preparation and and Collaboration Time
- $50 million – Deeply Affordable Housing
- $50 million – First Time Home Buyer Program
- $8 million – Grants To Incentivize Businesses to Improve Air Quality
The spending the Legislature voted on this session applies to the Fiscal Year 2024, which begins on July 1, 2023. As the year progresses, there will be opportunity to see how the money is spent and examine how efficient the State of Utah is being with taxpayer money. The Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst has several resources available to help follow the money trail:
Since all taxation has a direct relationship with government spending, your Utah Taxpayers Association will continue to examine and monitor the budget to find ways to curb and reduce government spending in Utah.