Utah’s legislative leaders approved a long list of budget additions Friday that include a $167 million income tax cut, $20,000 bonuses for some teachers and $18 million for a new program to encourage the development of more affordable housing.

The Utah Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee quickly took action at their evening meeting that followed days of closed-door negotiations about supplementing the $28 billion in base budgets approved earlier in the 45-day session.

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They added more than $1.1 billion overall to the state government’s budget, with just over $146 million from ongoing revenue growth and nearly $967 million from one-time or surplus funds.

A week ago, newly updated revenue estimates were announced that showed an additional $340 million — compared to billions in extra money last year — would be available in what had already been dubbed an “underwear and socks” budget year.

Those estimates were formally adopted by the House and Senate leaders that make up the committee, along with other revenue changes including the income tax cut making its way through the Legislature.

The nine pages of new spending for the budget year that begins July 1 were unanimously passed Friday without discussion as a roomful of state officials, lobbyists, advocates, media and others flipped through the 373 items.

The adjustments still need to be approved by the Legislature before the session ends March 1, along with some bills authorizing new or expanded programs included in the new spending.

That includes SB69, which reduces the income tax rate for individuals and corporations from 4.65% to 4.55%. The bill passed the Senate in January, but wasn’t even heard by the House until this week even though the Legislature’s GOP majority had made it a top priority.

House Speaker Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, told the Deseret News Friday that House Republicans were divided over what would be a fourth year of tax cuts, and a third year of reductions in the state income rate that was at 4.95% in 2021.

“I think it’s fair to say we have members that wanted to do more of an income tax cut. We had members that wanted to do less of an income tax cut. And we had members that wanted to do no income tax cut,” Schultz said.

The majority, he said, wanted another reduction in the income tax.

“The Legislature has been criticized every year: ‘Why do it? It’s not a big tax cut and people aren’t going to notice it,’” he said, but the reductions over the past three years add up to “a significant amount, especially today with inflation and how it’s hitting our constituents.”

In the end, the speaker said the tax cut was “appropriate” in a tight budget year.

“We had a ton of requests and education was a top priority for us,” Schultz said. “Actually, I’m really proud of the money that went toward public education this year. I think that’s important.”

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The public education budget would increase by nearly $509 million in one-time spending plus another almost $86.9 million in ongoing spending, money that would cover a 5% increase in the funding mechanism for schools known as the weighted pupil unit.

But “tax relief” was at the top of a list of funding highlights provided by lawmakers.

Besides the $167 million for the income tax cut — up from the $160 million set aside late last year due to the additional revenues anticipated — there is $2.3 million to expand eligibility for a nonrefundable child tax credit, from 3 to 4 years old.

Other items on the highlight list include:

Public Education

  • $150 million for the Excellence in Education and Leadership Program that would give some teachers a $20,000 bonus
  • $100 million in one-time funding plus $2.1 million ongoing for school safety
  • $40 million for the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program, down from a $150 million request
  • $8.4 million to give new teachers a $6,000 stipend as they fulfill their full-time student teaching requirement

Affordable Housing/Homelessness

  • $18 million for the just unveiled Utah Homes Investment Program,
  • $10 million to support the statewide homeless system
  • $3 million for a program to help members of law enforcement buy their first homes

Transportation/Infrastructure

  • $50 million for a Point of the Mountain transit stop
  • $15 million for a Saint George Regional Airport Control Tower

Natural Resources

  • $10 million for Great Salt Lake Investments
  • $10 million for the Cove-East Fork Virgin River watershed project
  • $5 million for an Ogden Canyon water line

Health and Social Services

  • $75 million for the Huntsman Cancer Institute Vineyard
  • $1.1 million for Family Promise of Ogden building

Criminal Justice

  • $1.8 million for prison safety and risk mitigation

Cultural

  • $2 million for the Golden Spike Monument
  • $1 million for St. George Musical Theater Construction

Higher Education

  • $735,000 for replacing diversity, equity and inclusion programs

Economic Opportunity

  • $3.079 million for the Hildale City Maxwell Park
  • $7.5 million for San Juan Hospital building replacement loan

Contributing: Marjorie Cortez