By the time the 2023 Utah State Legislature ends next week, lawmakers will have adopted a roughly $28 billion budget.

"It'll reflect what the people of Utah are looking for out of their state budget," said Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem, the House of Representatives' budget chief.

Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, the Senate's budget chief, said "there’s a lot of winners through this whole process."

Lawmakers have prioritized $400 million for an income tax cut, which amounts to roughly $200 a year back to the average Utah family making an average income.

Water conservation was one of the biggest winners in the legislative session with $200 million for agriculture optimization, which is new technology to help farmers grow crops with less water.

"We, as an industry, work really hard to take every drop of water seriously that we use. We appreciate the legislature helping us to make sure we’re doing the right thing," said Ron Gibson, a dairy farmer who is also the president of the Utah Farm Bureau.

Other water spending includes:

  • $50 million on water reuse and desalinization across the state
  • $30 million for infrastructure projects
  • $25 million for agriculture water optimization loans
  • $25 million for dam safety upgrades
  • $15 million to expand secondary water metering, which tracks outdoor water use
  • $12.5 million for the Great Salt Lake water trust and a new "lake czar" to oversee a strategic plan to help the lake
  • $12 million to expand cloud seeding across Utah
  • $5 million for Utah Lake improvements
  • $3 million for a public education campaign called "Utah Water Ways" focused on water conservation
  • $15 million for a new visitors center at Antelope Island

"A lot in conservation," House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, told FOX 13 News. "We will match or exceed the amount of money we put in water last year. So water will be a big winner in the budget this year."

The Speaker insisted that the money will ensure water gets into the Great Salt Lake, which is at a historic low and presents an environmental crisis for the state.

"We will ensure that there’s water that’s going to the lake this year for sure," he said.

To read about what else is in the budget, read FOX 13 News' coverage here. 

Fox 13 Reporter
Ben Winslow is FOX 13's reporter on Capitol Hill covering a wide variety of topics including politics, polygamy, vice and courts. He has been in the news business in Utah for more than 20 years now, working in radio, newspaper, television and digital news. Winslow has received numerous honors for his reporting, including a national Edward R. Murrow award; the Religion Newswriters Association Local TV News Report of the Year; the Utah Broadcaster's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Readers of Salt Lake City Weekly and Q Salt Lake have named him their "Best TV news reporter" for many years now. He co-hosts "Utah Booze News: An Alcohol Policy Podcast," covering the state's often confusing and quirky liquor laws. Winslow is also known for his very active Twitter account keeping Utahns up-to-date on important news.

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