SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Utah legislators introduced a massive funding increase to Utah education Wednesday during the Executive Appropriations Committee meeting.

The proposal adds $140 million to the Public Education base budget and an additional $121 million dollars in one-time educator bonuses of $1,500 per teacher.

These big-budget items are being added to the base budget, meaning they will be voted on in the early days of the 2021 Legislative Session.

There is no word yet on when exactly teachers will see those checks if the budget passes. Licensed and full-time educators will be eligible for the full amount of $1,500 while other school staff – including secretaries and custodians – will be eligible to receive up to $1,000.

Senate President Stuart Adams called the one-time bonus payments more of a reimbursement for all of the extra time and money teachers have been willing to give during the pandemic, and said the payment is possible because economic recovery is going better than expected in Utah. He said the payments are the result of a consensus between all legislative bodies in Utah.

Read the full public education budget recommendations below

President Adams also said the ongoing $140 million increase to the budget is coming as a direct result of Utahns voting to pass Amendment G. Passing Amendment G triggered statutory provisions already passed by the Utah legislature guaranteeing dollars for the WPU (weighted pupil unit) and inflation growth.

Early Wednesday morning, Governor-Elect Spencer Cox tweeted that he and his running-mate Deidre Henderson proposed an increase to the Public Education base budget and it was accepted by the Legislature, teasing toward the announcement of this massive budget increase and reporting done by the Salt Lake Tribune. 

Earlier this month, Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced teachers K-12 are essential workers and will be among the first to get the COVID-19 vaccination with medical professionals.

The first COVID-19 vaccines in Utah were administered at the University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare on Tuesday, just one day after the first shipments arrived in the state. A MICU nurse named Christy was the first to receive the vaccine in Utah.

ABC4’s Jordan Burrows spoke with 4th grade Copper Hills Elementary teacher Melissa Howard, who said she was considering retiring before the school year because of the pandemic. News of the vaccine has brought a new perspective.

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