The Utah Legislature is looking to address education and healthcare

The Utah Capitol Building in Salt Lake City.  The Utah Legislature began its 2023 plenary session on Tuesday.  The annual 45-day cycle runs through March 3, and lawmakers are expected to consider hundreds of laws, including proposed tax cuts, teacher pay increases, money for water infrastructure and funding for new transportation projects.

The Utah Legislature’s 45-day annual plenary session kicked off Tuesday, and as usual, lawmakers had a whole host of issues to debate.

In addition to balancing a $28 billion budget and keeping pace with continued growth in education and health care, the 29-member Senate and 75-member House will consider new laws affecting everything from teacher salaries to renewable energy to transgender sports rules. As the session begins, more than 300 bills have already been introduced.

Lawmakers can make big financial decisions, with an estimated $3.3 billion in surplus available to either spend on a rapidly growing list of demands, forgo a rainy day or fund some generous tax cuts.

While the GOP controls the legislature — the GOP has a 61-14 advantage in the House of Representatives and a 23-6 majority in the Senate — lawmakers can steer clear of a slew of thorny issues, and the political situation began early Monday as Speaker of the House Representatives Brad Wilson, R-Cassville, made his views clear during his opening remarks encouraging tax cuts, careful spending and a public pushback against the federal government on issues like energy policy.

“The best way to ensure Utahs can continue to call Utah home is to allow them to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets,” Wilson said, noting that while lawmakers have already cut state taxes by more than $300 million. The past five years, “we’re just getting started.”

House Speaker Brad Wilson looks from the floor at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

Senate President Stuart Adams, R. Layton, declared that “2023 will be the year of the tax cut — again, again, again,” arguing that the state’s recent history of low taxes and business-friendly policies has helped it grow into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. country.

“But the current federal policies have failed,” Adams said. Closing oil pipelines and excessive federal spending triggered inflation. Interest rates have gone up dramatically.”

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