Gov. Herbert presents budget recommendations for FY2021

Governor Gary Herbert presented his budget recommendations for FY2021 today at This is the Place Heritage Park. 

The governor’s budget recommendations for the coming fiscal year emphasize strategic investments that plan for growth and aim to ensure a high quality of life for all Utahns. 

Highlights in this year’s $20 billion budget include: 

  • $4.9 billion in state-directed investments in K-12 public education 
  • $1.6 billion toward higher education
  • $1.8 billion to bolster our transportation system
  • $1.2 billion to support Medicaid and social services
  • $900 million toward improving public safety
  • And $100 million for specific and scalable projects that will help improve Utah’s air quality

Since the Utah Legislature passed tax reform into law during a special session in mid-December, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget has been working to make adjustments to budget plans to ensure that all funding recommendations reflect the new tax system. 

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Utah’s population has grown faster than that of any other state in the last decade, and similar growth patterns are expected to continue, with population expected to reach 5.8 million by 2065. Targeted investments in education, the environment, mental health and medicaid, are designed to help Utah thrive as this growth continues.

“Education has always been, and continues to be, my number one budget priority”, Herbert said. “That is why, this year, we are investing $4.9 billion in K-12 public education, and over $1.6 billion in higher education.”

The budget proposal also recommends that the legislature fund a 4.5 percent increase in the weighted pupil unit, and sets aside $10.2 million to ensure that all K-12 students have access to computer science courses.

It includes $292 million in new, ongoing funding for public education.

Clean air is critical to Utahns’ health and quality of life, which is why Gov. Herbert recommends the state legislature invest $100 million to improve Utah’s air quality. This money should be dedicated to two scalable projects:  increasing the public transit budget by $34 million, and spending $66 million to increase electric vehicle infrastructure. 

“These investments will help us achieve our goal of reducing annual statewide per capita emissions by 25% by 2026”  Herbert said. 

Some are concerned that communities will become increasingly crowded as our state’s population continues to climb. The FY2021 budget recommendations include $40 million for the creation of an endowment for open space and outdoor recreation infrastructure. This will preserve Utah’s natural beauty as well as ensure Utahns available space long into the future. 

Finally, the governor’s budget puts particular emphasis on increasing support for mental health resources. 

“In recent years, I have become increasingly familiar with the mental health challenges many in our population face,” the governor said. “These challenges are complex, painful, and real. They affect so many of us, and many of the people we love.” 

The budget proposal directs $30.5 million of new funding to update and bolster the state’s mental health services system through funding targeted toward new crisis response units, crisis receiving centers, and other resources.

The Governor also proposed a $100 million in ongoing expenditures from the Medicaid Expansion Fund as Utah will begin accepting new enrollment into the states recently approved Medicaid expansion program with income eligibility now up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level.

You can view the full recommendations here.