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$1.6 billion in federal spending
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$1.6 billion in federal spending on Utah’s special session agenda

(Stock photo, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY- Lawmakers have $1.6 billion dollars in federal spending from the American Rescue Plan Act to help Utah recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the controversy over whether to impose a permanent ban on the use of masks in Utah’s public schools is attracting more attention to the Utah Legislature’s special session set to occur Wednesday. 

State Senator Stuart Adams reported the plan is spending about one-third of the federal $1.6 billion, with appropriations including support for the state’s vaccination efforts.

“We also want to make sure that the vaccines are, as broadly as possible, available to those who want to take advantage of them,” Adams said.

The state could spend $100 million to reduce the rate increase expected for unemployment insurance. The rest of the federal money, Sen. Adams told KSL Newsradio’s Boyd Matheson, would go into a series of “buckets” for future use.

“We’ve looked at critical areas, water, mental health, all those type of things, and infrastructure, and we’re going to put the remaining 1.1 billion dollars into those buckets,” he said.

There are 22 items in all on the proclamation issued by Governor Spencer Cox setting the agenda for the special session. They range from adjusting the rules for bail for criminal suspects to extending the state of emergency for drought conditions in Utah.