Managing Utah’s State Budget During COVID-19

August 24, 2020

From the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis, the Utah Legislature has taken swift action to manage the state’s budget. As part of this effort, the Legislature passed H.B. 6002, Supplemental Budget Balancing and Coronavirus Relief Appropriations, during the 2020 August special session.

H.B. 6002 generates savings by eliminating double funding for a training program and rolling-back certain salary increases. These savings, along with $11 million in excess health insurance reserves, will restore funding to budget hot spots. 

Some of the priorities funded with this bill are;

  • $490,000 to sustain the operation of some state run health clinics until after the next General Session;

  • $1.1 million to give teachers at the Schools for the Deaf and Blind a statutorily required and much-deserved pay raise;

  • $500,000 to provide expanded legal defense for those who are unable to afford it themselves;

  • $1 million for pre- and post-conviction services and supervision at the local level; and

  • $1 million for additional job training and retraining through Utah State University and the Utah Industrial Alliance.

H.B. 6002 also completes the third and last round of appropriating the $688 million in Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds the state received under the CARES Act. 

The bill funds among the following:

  • $25 million for broadband internet access in eastern and northern Utah;

  • $4 million for WiFi access to residences in San Juan County;

  • $15 million for classroom supplies, equipment and enhancements – including personal protective equipment. The $15 million is in addition to the money schools directly received through the CARES Act;

  • $4 million for additional PPE to help with charter school enrollment increases;

  • $40 million for additional economic support to our hardest-hit industries, including $7.5 million for arts organizations and $5 million for mining;

  • $3 million for outreach and direct services in multicultural communities;

  • $7 million to provide much-needed respite services for those who care for individuals with disabilities on the waiting list;

  • $15 million to add equipment and a night shift at state medical labs to build capacity and improve Coronavirus test turn-around times;

  • $750,000 to add intensive care unit beds, especially in smaller communities.

Lastly, the Utah Legislature authorized $138 million in unemployment benefits and $1.7 million in administrative costs to provide an additional $300 a week to Utahns who find themselves without work due to COVID-19. 

Utah has proactively managed the state budget while simultaneously preparing for an economic downturn. For over a decade, legislators have planned for a crisis like COVID-19, allowing state leaders to effectively navigate uncharted waters.

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