Healthcare – There is nothing in the law that forbids the State of Utah from providing a better healthcare system than the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). With a Republican dominated state government, the best idea that they could come up with was Obamacare, despite all their years of complaining. Nothing has been done to address the runaway cost of healthcare, the unbearable co-pays and insurance deductibles that Utah families face, and the tens of millions spent for healthcare insurance company executive compensation. Utah has many young families and healthcare has a large impact their budget. Our seniors are locked into fixed incomes and when health challenges come along, they are forced to make the hard choice between food, housing or utilities. Getting control of healthcare costs while preserving quality care is a priority for me.
Air Quality & Paris Climate Accord – I spent my early years in Salt Lake County and to see the valley blanketed in pea soup smog each time I return is heartbreaking. I still have family living there and I fear for their wellbeing. The State needs to work hard to limit the contributing factors to this appalling pollution. Last June, Mayor Jackie Biskupski stated that "Salt Lake City is warming at a rate twice the global average, which is already impacting water supplies, worsening air quality and threatening our $1 billion ski industry." Utah needs to take the lead and do its share to be part of the global solution. I feel that the argument isn’t about the economy, it’s about the world we leave our children.
Education – Utah Lawmakers need to put money into Education at all levels on a permanent basis. School facilities, instructors and security are all faced with new and costly challenges. According to lendedu.com, the average Utah student loan debt has increased to $18,810 for 2017. I am in favor of eliminating the cost of higher education in Utah. With all our great amenities, a well-educated population will be just one more reason for you and your children to live here in Utah.
Taxes & Government Spending – Last year Ogden City and Weber County both imposed over 20% tax increases on their citizens. The State of Utah spent $53 million on a coal port in northern California despite declining coal demand and local opposition to the port. The cost for the new Utah State prison has almost doubled from original estimates. After receiving reductions to the federal corporate tax rate, Energy Solutions spent $60,000 to lobby the State Legislature into an additional $1.7 million dollar tax break. It’s too bad that the State Legislature does consider those breaks for individual taxpayers.
Land Use – Much of the State Legislature has been in favor of acquiring control of Federal lands in the State. They have also supported the whole sale reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Under the Trump Administration, federal land sales are at an all-time high. Locally, the Promontory Point Landfill is in the news, notwithstanding efforts by the developer to suppress public documents concerning its need. Dumping toxic waste near a body of water is never a good idea, but the developers asked the state for a $35 million bond to fund their Class V landfill (coal ash (arsenic & mercury), PCBs and contaminated soil). State officials didn’t see the need, so the company reconsidered and told the state in 2016 it only intended to operate a Class I landfill (local municipal waste) and the bond was approved. Then the developer asked again for Class V permit and after a negative study, the developer withdrew the request once more. The developer’s legal counsel has requested the removal of those negative public documents from the public’s sight.
Homelessness & Poverty – This year, Utah Lawmakers have set aside $10.5 million toward Operation Rio Grande, to address problems of crime and overcrowding around Salt Lake City's downtown homeless shelter. The operation includes a focus on stepped-up policing, job training, drug treatment and health insurance, along with the construction of three new homeless shelters. The additional policing leaves supporting agencies shorthanded and law enforcement activities razor thin in those areas. In addition, many communities and churches are assisting with housing, food, clothing and employment assistance.
Partisan Politics – Utah remains one of the most Republican dominated states in the nation. In 2010, when the State Legislature was allowed to redraw district boundaries and this gave one party a distinct advantage, so the fix was in. Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, was also targeted in two separate rounds of redistricting. There is currently a drive on to ask voters to create an independent redistricting commission in next year’s election. Voters shouldn’t have to tolerate political dirty tricks to keep one group in perpetual power.
Crime – Many crimes in our communities go unaddressed due various reason. Lack of manpower, excessive case load, or an unwillingness to prosecute, these circumstances allow for repeat offenders to prey on the public, time and time again. The absence of enforcement for internet crimes leaves our seniors at risk of losing their entire life savings to scammers. The majority of this year’s Sherriff candidates suggest that increased wages is the only solution to curb the revolving door at the Sherriff’s office. That same logic was part of the justification for the 21% property tax increase for Weber County. This vicious circle will never end unless the County discovers other methods to encourage personnel retention.