Utah governor focuses on pandemic relief in budget proposal

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – New Utah Gov. Spencer Cox presented his first budget proposal Monday which focuses on pandemic relief and further developing rural infrastructure.

Cox, a Republican, stressed the importance of equity as he unveiled the proposed $21.7 billion budget from his administration’s new rural affairs office at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. The proposal would allocate at least $250 million towards fighting the coronavirus pandemic and $125 million on rural infrastructure, including expanding broadband access and electric vehicle charging stations.

“It was critical that everyone in Utah felt like they were represented in this budget proposal and certainly rural is a big piece of that,” Cox told reporters during a virtual briefing.

The budget also includes a boost in education funding for higher education and K-12 schools, as well as spending for rural schools. Cox said he also supports putting $112 million towards providing $1,500 bonuses for all teachers in the state, a measure that has already been endorsed by state lawmakers.

The governor’s proposal will be considered by the Legislature during its upcoming session which will start next week.

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Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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