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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

After a year like 2020, there’s something about the holiday season that reminds me of what’s most important: my family, friends and the opportunity I have to live in Utah and work alongside each of you. I am optimistic 2021 will bring new opportunities and better outcomes for our state.

Last week, I met with my Senate colleagues to prepare for the 2021 General Session. We have been working on ways to be transparent and provide opportunities for all Utahns to stay involved. I am happy to announce that the public will be able to provide public comment during committee meetings in-person and virtually. Significant efforts have been made to make this possible and I hope many of you take advantage of this opportunity. To learn more about the new process, click here.

Budget Update

The Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) released initial revenue estimates and outlined plans to reward educators for their extraordinary service during this challenging year. The Utah Legislature, in consensus with the Governor’s Office and Tax Commission, announced the state will see a 1.5 percent increase in revenue in the current 2021 fiscal year and a 6.5 percent increase in the 2022 fiscal year.

The Executive Appropriations Committee recommended the Legislature appropriate $121 million of this new revenue to a one-time COVID-19 educator assistance stipend for teachers and school staff who are making great sacrifices to keep schools open and educate our children under challenging circumstances. Governor-elect Spencer Cox supports the Legislature’s plan to provide one-time assistance to K-12 educators and staff of districts who provide in-person or a combination of in-person and virtual options. All of us in the Legislature express profound appreciation for our educators' dedication and hard work in the state.

We are committed to continuing to be fiscally responsible and focused on the long-term well-being of the state. The budget will continue to be refined during the 2021 session. Read more here.

Utah Teachers

EAC also recommends an appropriation of $140.5 million to fund a weighted pupil unit (WPU) increase and $95 million to fund growth and inflation in the public education base budget. These appropriations fulfill the Legislature’s promise to education following voters’ approval of Constitutional Amendment G and do so a year earlier than planned.

We are committed to continuing to be fiscally responsible and focused on the long-term well-being of the state. The budget will continue to be refined during the 2021 session. Read more here.

Internet in Rural Utah

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is in the final stages of installing fiber conduit systems in two rural Utah locations to increase internet connectivity, helping communities and enhancing mobility and safety on Utah’s highways. Legislators allocated $30 million of the CARES Act funding to UDOT to support the infrastructure to provide broadband connectivity to rural communities. More information here.

COVID-19 Legislative Procedures

The Legislature has made it a top priority to uphold the public process and access legislative proceedings from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Significant efforts have been made to ensure the public can participate in live committee meetings in-person or remotely during the 2021 General Session. Read more on how you can provide comments here.

Advice and Consent

Last but not least, the Senate had the privilege of reviewing and approving nominations for vacant public positions in Utah. On December 18, 2020 the Senate confirmed the following appointments made by Governor Gary Herbert:

Judges: Rita Cornish, Gregory Lamb, Robert Lund, Denise Porter, and Ronald Russel

History Committee: Spencer Ryan Hall

Happy Holidays

On behalf of my family and loved ones, I send my warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Kind regards,

Senator Ron Winterton

Utah Senate District 26

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