Gov. Cox signs bill ending Test to Stay program, making it law

Gov. Spencer Cox on Wednesday signed his first batch of bills passed by legislators during the first few weeks of the legislative session.

The bills included the end to the pandemic-prompted Test to Stay program for schools, as well as several budget bills. With the governor's signature, they now become law.

"In-person learning is critical to the development of children and youth," Cox said in a statement. "With this bill, we have clarified how schools transition to remote learning when significant illness threatens a school's ability to safely continue in-person learning."

He called the Test to Stay program "one element of a layered approach" to safe in-person learning. The law clarifies how the state could again implement the program "when it is determined that it will be helpful in controlling the spread of COVID-19," Cox said.

"The virus has been evolving and our response needs to, too," he added.

The bills Cox signed Wednesday:

  • HB183, In-Person Learning Amendments.
  • HB1, Public Education Base Budget Amendments.
  • HB5, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Base Budget.
  • HB6, Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Base Budget.
  • HB7, Social Services Base Budget.
  • SB1, Higher Education Base Budget.
  • SB4, Business, Economic Development, and Labor Base Budget.
  • SB6, Infrastructure and General Government Base Budget.
  • SB7, National Guard, Veterans Affairs, and Legislature Base Budget.

Cox noted that the state's "rainy day" fund stands at more than $1.15 billion for fiscal year 2022.

"We're thrilled that the Legislature agrees that planning for future unknowns is vital to our economic health with the allocation of an additional $57 million in rainy day fund deposits," the governor said.

He also praised the Legislature for addressing bonds in the budget for the prison redevelopment and FrontRunner double-track projects "to ensure that our children do not have to pay for what we want today. This excellent use of one-time funds demonstrates the fiscal responsibility and foresight that our federal partners lack," Cox said.