Updated: Jan 23
Dear Friends and Family,
I hope each of you has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As we celebrate this season of love and giving, I hope each of you has the chance to spend time with those who matter most, and you feel the joy and love that is so abundant this time of the year.
As I have taken the time to reflect on 2022, I remembered the many challenges we faced as a state, and how we worked together to overcome them. Together, we achieved the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, and are heading into 2023 with another budget surplus. I look forward to the upcoming general session, which is approaching quickly, and the opportunity to work with my fellow legislators on sound policy that will benefit all Utahns.
After spending many hours in monthly interim meetings hearing reports and learning about a variety of issues, I am prepared and excited to represent you at the Capitol. I will be sponsoring several bills that I have worked on with local members of our community. It was a pleasure to spend time with and learn from such incredible individuals.
As part of redistricting, on January 1, 2023, we will receive a new district number. Currently, we are 26, but we will soon be known as 20. It is an honor to serve you and I encourage you to reach out and continue to be involved in the legislative process.
Thank you for all you do and have a wonderful holiday season!
Getting Ready for Session – Legislative Priorities
As we approach the 2023 General Session, the Utah Legislature is focusing on many important issues. As always, we will be examining many bills on a variety of topics. However, there are a few specific issues that will be a focus for the Senate Majority during this year's session.
Find a Long-term Solution to Utah's Water Crisis.
Utah is in one of the worst droughts in state history with more than 52% of the state being in extreme drought conditions. Concerns surrounding drought conditions and its impact on the Great Salt Lake are at the forefront of the issues the Legislature will focus on during the 2023 General Session. Last year, we appropriated nearly $500 million to water conservation efforts. This year, we will continue to examine effective ways to reduce drought conditions and increase water conservation efforts in the state.
Increase Teacher Salaries.
Our state is blessed with incredible teachers who perform invaluable work by educating our children. As teacher salaries struggle to keep up with inflation rates, Utah is confronting a teacher shortage. To show our appreciation for the critical work our teachers do and to combat the state educator shortage, the Legislature will look to increase teacher salaries during this legislative session.
This year, Utah's budget will be the biggest in state history at an estimated $28.4 billion for fiscal year 2024. A large portion of the increased budget is from one-time funding as a result of recent economic conditions. While our budget may not be as large in future years, the Legislature will use this year's funding to benefit Utahns now and in the future. A major focus of the budget will be cutting taxes for Utahns. Last year, we passed over $100 million in tax cuts, targeting families, veterans and the elderly. This year, we passed nearly $200 million in tax cuts for all Utahns. The Legislature will continue to prioritize cutting taxes and giving Utahns back their hard-earned money.
Keep Utah's Economy and Business Community as the Best in the Nation
Recent events have caused economic turmoil for much of the world, but Utah's economy has remained largely unaffected. With one of the highest rates of job growth and GDP in the country, Utah's economy is thriving despite the COVID-19 pandemic and high inflation rates. We have the best economy in the nation and are the third best state for business. The Legislature will continue to focus on implementing policies that encourage businesses to contribute to Utah's economy, now and in the future.
Sustain Utah's Great Quality of Life
Utahns enjoy the third-best quality of life in the nation. Quality of life is measured using many factors, such as the comfort, health and happiness of individuals in a community. While legislative policies contribute to quality of life within our state, the people of Utah are the driving force behind our state's high quality of life. Because of the kindness and hard work of our citizens, Utah will continue to remain one of the best places to live in the nation.
Budget Recommendations for the 2023 General Session
Recently, the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) adopted budget recommendations for the upcoming session that focus on Utah’s long-term economic stability. The EAC budget recommendations reflect prudent policies and meet Utah’s current and future needs by making strategic investments such as funding education, allocating money for rainy day reserves and reducing taxes for Utahns.
Highlights of the EAC recommendations include:
Approximately $400 million in the base budget for public education increases.
Over $3 billion ($2 billion one time and $1.2 billion ongoing) to address inflationary cost increases, reduce debt and liability, provide tax relief, and invest in infrastructure.
Smart, conservative policy decisions have enabled our state to navigate economic uncertainties. Though Utah is in a strong position, we are taking note of concerning trends and preparing for economic downturns. During the 2023 General Session, we will consider and refine the budget and discuss how to make significant generational impacts.
Kind regards, Senator Ron Winterton Utah Senate District 26