SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (ABC4) — Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson released their full 2024 fiscal year budget recommendations on Friday, Dec. 9. Aside from proposing a $1 billion tax relief for Utahns, the budget also prioritizes affordable housing, water conservation and compensation for teachers and state employees.

Cox intends to invest a $100 million one-time spending into deeply affordable housing, which would add another 2,000 affordable houses across Utah. The amount includes $80 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and $20 million from the state’s general funds.

“Government is part of the problem,” Cox said. “We are part of the reason why housing is so expensive. We’re working with local governments to reduce the types of regulations and fees that increase the price of housing.”

He recommends appropriating $500,000 to the Veterans First-Time Homebuyer Program. He wants to spend another $11 million on creating a new down payment assistance program for educators and firefighters who are buying a house for the first time. The proposal stated that this new program would give roughly $15,000 for each down payment.

There is no allocated funding for the gondola at Cottonwood Canyon in the budget proposal at the moment, according to Cox.

In terms of public transportation, the budget recommends $25 million for a one-year statewide zero-fare transit pilot. According to the budget proposal, the Utah Transit Authority saw an increase in ridership during Free Fare February in 2022.

The governor is proposing an investment of $561 million in water conservation, in which $132.9 million will be used toward saving the Great Salt Lake, and $217.9 million is intended for other statewide conservation efforts. The budget recommends spending $249 million as well to enact strategies in Utah’s coordinated action plan for water and other items for water conservation.

“Good government requires good people. Good people intend on doing good work,” said Henderson. “In this tight market, we need to invest in our employees.”

The governor proposes $177.1 million to go toward the compensation for state employees. Utah Division of Child and Family Services workers, in particular, will see an 18% increase in their wages.

Cox wants to spend a total of $1.52 billion in the public and higher education sectors. Of that amount, $200.7 million has been set aside to fund an increase in compensation for every public school teacher in the state.

The budget recommends $300 million in new ongoing income tax cuts and $574 million in one-time tax relief. If the budget is approved, Cox will be lowering the income tax rate from 4.85% to 4.75%. To add to that, he plans to make up to $250 of the Taxpayer Tax Credit refundable for lower-income households, who will mostly miss out on the benefits of a tax cut.