Governor Gary Herbert speaks during his budget announcement.

Governor’s Proposed Budget Demonstrates Continued Strength of Utah’s Economy

davidwicaiBlog, Legislature

Additional funding for arts and museums grants, cost-of-living increases for employees, and grant money for STEM programs were among the highlights for Heritage & Arts in Gov. Gary Herbert’s 2020 budget proposal.

During his announcement Wednesday, Herbert emphasized the amount of increased funding for education. This reflects a pattern of his entire administration, during which time the weighted pupil unit — which goes directly to school districts — has more than doubled.

Herbert also proposed significant investments in programs that improve the environment, especially air quality, with targeted funding for more electric vehicles charging stations and open space. There is also money for the Medicaid expansion.

A detailed budget document is available through the Governor’s Office of Management & Budget. All of the major media outlets have also written their own stories about the budget.

The budget proposal is typically the starting point for discussions with the Legislature, which will begin the 2020 General Session on Jan. 27. This Legisplaining provides a general overview of the budget proposal purpose.

Highlights for our department and employees from this proposal include:

Arts & Museums grant funding: The governor included $3 million in additional ongoing funding for cultural grants. This would be combined with the $2 million appropriated last year.

STEM grant funding: The $3.8 million in funding proposed by the governor would ensure that a successful competetive grant program for STEM educators and programs would continue.

Employee benefits: Along with a proposed 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase, the budget proposal also includes coverage of the estimated 4.35 percent increase in health care costs. Additionally, the governor is seeking $2 million to cover the costs of full parental leave for state employees.

Capitol Complex funding: The $110 million for the renovation of the State Capitol Complex, including a museum on the north end, was appropriated last year. The governor has recommended an additional $46 million ongoing for building costs.