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Tax cuts, education and the Great Salt Lake

Beginning Jan. 17, the 45-day legislative session will tackle a number of issues at the forefront of Utah’s politics. Here is your guide on what to expect from Gov. Spencer Cox’s proposals for this year’s legislative session.

Tax cuts

Continuing on with precedent, Republican lawmakers plan to introduce a series of tax cuts. Cox has proposed state income taxes be reduced from 4.85% to 4.75%, totaling $190 million. A similar $193 million tax cut was passed last year when the legislature cut taxes from 4.95% to 4.85%. Other proposed changes include a one-time tax rebate for households and property owners.

The Great Salt Lake

With the Great Salt Lake water crisis garnering national attention this past year, lawmakers are expected to address long-term solutions for the state. Cox’s proposal allocates $560 million to support both water conservation efforts and investments for saving the lake itself. Last year, the legislature passed a series of bills that totaled approximately $500 million in support of water conservation. Other key environmental efforts the legislature will address are agricultural optimization, expanding water infrastructure and improving education and outreach efforts.

Education

Decisions on a number of topics concerning education in Utah will be a part of this year’s legislative session. First, Cox has proposed a $6,000 pay raise for K-12 teachers. Raising teacher salaries could also lead to further debate on scholarship funding for private schools and homeschooling, all part of the Hope Scholarship Bill from last year, which failed by one vote. This year’s session could reignite the Hope Scholarship Bill discussion and potentially lead to more funding for education across the state.

Housing

As Utah faces a housing affordability crisis, Cox has proposed $150 million to tackle the housing shortage. Lawmakers have expressed concerns about bureaucratic timelines for building housing, hinting that conflicting goals between local governments and private developers could hinder the process of making Utah’s housing more affordable. Last year, the legislature passed a record-breaking $70 million for housing projects, and further investments are expected to be made this year.

Contact your legislator

With the legislative session kicking off, key decisions will be made in the coming weeks that will affect Utahns across the state. By contacting your legislator, you can play an important role in ensuring that your elected legislators continue to represent you. Utah’s state representatives and senators can both be contacted through their official websites.