Important Issues | Mike For Utah

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Health Care

The people of Utah overwhelmingly support health care expansion that goes well beyond what was passed by the legislature this year – though politicians and the governor are quick to call the plan a success, the reality is that better plans exist that are both more fiscally responsible and are the morally right thing to do.

The debate around health care expansion shows us everything that is wrong with politics in our state. The governor handed over the power to decide health care expansion to the legislature because he was more concerned with partisan politics than what was right for the people and their pocketbooks. Worst of all, his decision was done at the expense of low-income families and public health.

I have built my career around finding solutions to complex health care issues.

  • Full Medicaid Expansion

The people of Utah are already paying for Medicaid expansion, but instead of having our tax dollars come back to the state, politicians have allowed your hard earned dollars to go to 32 other states and Washington D.C. to pay for their coverage.

It is time to be honest about the cost. Yes, Utah would have to spend $44 million in order to expand health care – but in return the state receives $532 million to ensure that 105,000 of our family, friends, and neighbors don’t become destitute simply because they fall ill or are injured…The current plan costs the state $30 million and the state only receives $70 million back – adding insult to injury, the current plan only covers 16,000 people.

Utah hospitals in the past have agreed to a hospital assessment fee to cover these costs because they know that, in the long run, it will save them money. How? Expansion reduces the chances that a patient will be unable to pay their bills and allows people to receive more cost-effective preventative care instead of costly emergency care.

  • A Healthier Utah For A Healthier Economy

If an employee is sick their productivity drops; when a child is sick they miss class; and when public health isn’t a priority, we all suffer.

States such as Indiana, Kentucky, and Massachusetts offer incentives to companies that provide wellness programs to their employees such as gym memberships and healthy eating programs. These programs have been shown to reduce insurance costs for companies and employees. The state can also lead by example. I will work hard to reduce the cost of health care for state employees by identifying and implementing similar wellness programs – creating healthier public employees while reducing government spending.

By making businesses a partner in the well-being of Utah residents, we can help to reduce costs and improve our quality of life.

  • Real Plans For Real Utahns

Families all across the state are feeling the weight of increasing health care costs, and there is more the state can do to reduce costs.

As your governor, I will work to expand behavioral, dental, and vision care while reducing costs. This can be done through the hospital assessment fee. Such preventative care saves us money and helps those who require services to be more productive.

Having worked in the health care industry for 30 years, I know the value of having on-site physicians as well as the benefits of telehealth programs to provide long-term solutions to this issue. Working with public and private providers, I will work to ensure that all Utahns have access to the health care they deserve.

Air Quality

For years, politicians have nibbled around the edges when it has come to cleaning up our dirty air. Though many think that the problem is just along the Wasatch Front, and in Cache, Duchesne, and Uintah counties, all suffer from poor air quality and counties such as Washington, Tooele, and Box Elder flirt with dangerous air quality levels.

The truth is that when our air quality has improved it has been in spite of our legislature and governor, not because of it. Politicians have consistently and purposefully tied the hands of the Division of Air Quality when they have attempted to clean the air and have allowed cheaters to avoid legal prosecution for violations by underfunding enforcement.

And the harm is real and affects nearly every Utahn. Not only does poor air make us sick, but it scares away companies looking to start or relocate to Utah. It is time to get serious.

  • Create And Enforce A Comprehensive Air Quality Plan

As your governor, I will look out for the needs of all Utahns, not the special interests that tell the legislature and governor what to do. The first step to achieving this goal is to create and enforce an air quality plan with the distinct goal of reducing emissions and improving air quality while ensuring quality jobs for Utah residents. Though I will always work with policy makers to make a positive change, I am not above vetoing bills that go against the plan.

Such a plan would hold the governor and legislature accountable to the people and say with no uncertainty that inaction is no longer an option for the people of Utah.

  • Local Solutions To Local Problems

Though air pollution is a general problem, the specific reasons a particular area suffers from air pollution vary greatly. Because of this, I will work to ensure that the Division of Air Quality is given the regulatory tools needed to improve our air.

The legislature purposefully prevents the state from expanding air quality standards above national minimums, and when laws were proposed to allow the Division of Air Quality to provide Utah solutions to Utah problems, special interests won over the air we all breathe.

  • Increase Funding For The Divison Of Air Quality And Punish Cheaters

The Division of Air Quality simply does not have the number of enforcement officers to catch the cheaters who pollute our air – and the cheaters know it.

Year after year politicians refuse to fund the Division of Air Quality, so when a polluter breaks the law and dirties our air, they know that they probably will not get caught. If they do, they know the investigation will take time – avoiding prosecution for years (if they are ever actually charged).

It is time that we give the Division of Air Quality the tools they need to protect our air.

K-12 Education

Every election, politicians talk about how important K-12 education is, and after every election the super-majority in the legislature and the governor’s office fail to fund K-12 education levels even close to what the public wants and our children deserve. This year, the governor and politicians in the legislature pat themselves on the back for a 3 percent increase in K-12 education, but this makes no dent in per-pupil spending and is far from restoring education to levels prior to the Great Recession.

 Utah can fund education better – in fact, it already has.

In 1995 Utah was 7th in the nation in percentage of income going towards public education, since then it has dropped to 31st by 2012. There are two main reasons for this: in 1996 a constitutional amendment passed allowing higher education to use public education funds and 2007 tax reforms that directly cut funding towards education.

When politicians shortchange our education system we are robbing from our future. We need to act, and we need to act now. By returning to 1995 funding plans, we could add one billion dollars to our public education system.

  • We Must Be Serious About Funding Public Education

In order to fund education properly we must revisit the 5% flat tax for corporate and individual income taxes to ensure that our hard-earned income tax dollars are used exclusively for K-12 education. We must also review ways to restore our property tax structure to pre-recession levels and work to build public/private partnerships to find new funding for specific programs – similar to those ones successfully used in Salt Lake County.

Yes, this may mean raising taxes – growth from low taxes doesn’t fix the problem because growth means more people, meaning more students in school; at best we can hold the line – though at current rates it looks like we will fall further and further behind each year. Though businesses don’t like to pay more in taxes, they avoid Utah altogether because, year after year, they are unable to find well-educated workers to fill the jobs they are trying to create.

Education is an investment with high returns, and although adding money into the K-12 system doesn’t magically fix everything, it certainly can help a lot of things. By giving schools and school districts the money they need to properly teach children, we can make a lot of headway in improving our children’s future.

  • End The Education Funding Shell Game

Politicians have been more than happy to take funds originally set aside for traditional K-12 education and use them to fund higher education and charter schools. Though charter and higher ed schools are important parts of the educational mix of Utah, politicians’ sneaky use of Utahns hard earned tax dollars shortchanges the majority of our children.

As your governor, I will hold the legislature accountable and demand that dollars designed for public schools go towards public schools and demand the political courage to properly fund charter and higher education through other sources.

  • Work To Close The Achievement Gap

When it comes to graduating high school, many of Utah’s children are being left behind. Currently, one out of every four Latinos do not graduate with a high school diploma – and it is a moral imperative that we correct the situation.

Education is the number one way to reduce poverty and crime and the best way to create a strong and powerful workforce for a thriving economy. With so many students falling behind, we are closing the door to opportunity and hurting them for a lifetime.

To fight this, we must invest in Pre-K and all-day Kindergarten. Study after study show that if children fall behind in reading by the third grade, it is almost impossible for them to catch up. Relatively small investments in our children when they are young provide huge benefits for a lifetime.

Women’s Issues

Utah is consistently rated one of the worst states for women in terms of health care, employment and leadership, and safety.

  • Women’s health

Women’s health issues have been attacked more aggressively in recent years. I fully support a woman’s constitutional right to choose because health care decisions are best left to a woman and her doctor, not the government.

I would also reinstate funding to Planned Parenthood that Governor Herbert recently cut. Planned Parenthood provides many Utahns with affordable access to vital health care services, many of which decrease the number of unintended pregnancies.

  • Women in the workplace

In Utah, women make 67 cents for every dollar paid to men, the second-worst gender wage gap in the nation. The difference is even larger for women of color. At CHG Healthcare, I have worked to close the pay gap and encourage women to take on leadership roles. Last year, we were recognized as the 15th best place in America for women to work.

I believe in equal pay for equal work. We need to ensure that public and private employers in Utah are complying with state and federal equal pay laws, and remove barriers for those who have faced wage discrimination to be compensated. We also need to make it easier for women to remain in the workforce through paid family leave programs.

Further, we need to increase the minimum wage and encourage more girls and women to study STEM fields so they can find higher-paying jobs.

  • Women’s Safety

Utah women are more likely to experience sexual assault than other women in America. We need to test all rape kits and enter the results into a database. We also need to teach affirmative consent so that rates of sexual assault decrease, especially on college campuses.

 

 

Higher Education

In our modern economy a post high school education is becoming more and more necessary. Unfortunately, it is becoming harder and harder for many to afford and receive the critical academic and technical skills needed to find pathways to success and achieve the American Dream.

Our colleges and universities not only prepare our workforce, but they open the door to new research and development critical to innovative technologies industry requires to remain competitive in a global economy.

It is for these reasons that we need to ensure that tuition remains affordable for everyday Utahns and that we all take on a greater share of both the costs and benefits of a well-educated workforce.

  • Expand Funding For Colleges And Universities

The actual cost of higher education has not increased much since the year 2000, what has changed is a drop in state funds, forcing students to pick up more of the costs.

The increasing weight of student loan debt has a real cost to Utah. More and more college graduates are holding off on buying homes and starting families because they simply do not feel they can balance these financial goals against the realities of paying for school for 10, 15, or 20 years.

Moderate tax increases for those earning $250,000 or more a year would put more than $175 million into the education budget a year. These increases would affect only 1.5% of all families and help to reduce costs for the 171,000 students enrolled in the higher education system.

If we consider higher education a priority, we must commit to funding it for all Utahns.

  • Better Prepare Students For Higher Education Before They Enroll

Time is the enemy of college graduation – dropout rates increase dramatically as the years to finish a degree go beyond the average. Dropping out after taking years of classes is the worst of both worlds: the student doesn’t graduate and they are still required to pay for the education they have already received.

A recent study from the Utah State Auditor shows that three out of every four high school graduates were not ready for entry-level college courses. This means that students have to pay more and stay in school longer (taking on more debt and becoming more likely to drop out) to catch up to acceptable levels. Not being prepared also hurts our colleges and universities because they have to hire more teachers, have more classrooms, and plan for more students – all of which raise costs for all students and the state.

This is a sad symptom of our underfunded K-12 system that puts a very real cost burden on Utah families. By better funding K-12 public education, we can better prepare students for college and release some pressures currently facing students and higher education.

  • Encourage The Use Of Trade Schools

Though college and university enrollment are often the focus of lawmakers, trade schools also play a key role in Utah’s post high school education landscape.

As governor, I will work to help promote trade schools as a real way for people to learn the skills that suit them best and provide a course for a more secure future.

Taxes and Government Spending

The governor loves to boast that he has balanced the budget every year. But did you know that the governor and legislature are required by law to balance the budget?

I agree that a balanced budget is important for the good of the state, but the governor is twisting the truth when it comes to taxes and government spending to make it seem that he has singlehandedly stopped the state from going into the red. What the governor won’t tell you is that this law means that there are only two ways to balance the budget when funds come up short: raise taxes or cut spending.

As a business owner, I know how devastating high tax rates can be for businesses and families – but I also know that the desire to cut taxes year after year has had a disastrous effect on our schools, roads, public works, and social services. Without an educated workforce, safe roads that work, water systems that feed our state, and safer communities, businesses will not want to set up shop in Utah – and that is not a Utah I want to live in.

  • Evaluate The Long-Term Effects Of The Flat Tax

In 2007, politicians either didn’t know or didn’t care about the effect lower taxes would have on education funding. When combined with other tax cuts from around the same time have resulted in our budget having $479 million less each year. That is real money that isn’t going towards schools, roads, infrastructure, and services; real money that could be improving the lives of every Utahn.

After nearly a decade, the time has come to ask if our current tax structure is working in the best interest of all Utahns. I feel that if we are honest with ourselves, we know that it isn’t.

That is why I am proposing a 1% income tax increase for those households earning between $250,000 and $1 million a year and a 2% income tax increase for those earning over $1 million. With a few additional tweaks to this portion of the tax code, the state would bring nearly $179 million to our schools and affect only 1.5% of all Utahns (including myself).

  • Reevaluate Truth In Taxation Laws

Strict truth in taxation laws has made it difficult for cities and counties to raise taxes, even if they are needed to support the services citizens expect. In the past this has caused cities and counties to become creative with the creation of fees, to contract out to sub-par companies, or to hold off on any tax increase until the situation has reached a breaking point, resulting in massive tax increases in a single year (Sevier County, for example, is considering a 70% property tax increase this year because thy have held off on any taxes for so long).

I firmly believe that government should have to prove the need for any tax increase, but it should not be so fearful of it that the situation spirals out of control. The fact is that special interests purposefully crafted the truth in taxation law because they want to make it hard for the government to ensure that everyone pays their fair share and then claim that government doesn’t work.

A good truth in taxation law doesn’t make more taxes, just smarter ones.

  • Remove The Tax On Feminine Hygiene Products

Politicians and the governor recently approved subsidies for those in the oil industry to upgrade equipment and are sending $52 million to fund a port in California…but rejected the idea of lifting the tax on feminine hygiene products. Even though the governor and politicians are more than happy to approve tax cuts to many industries across the state, they refuse to drop  a tax that directly impacts families.

It is profoundly unfair that the state penalises women for being women and the $1.68 million the state would lose would result in real dollars returning to families across the state.

Jobs and the Economy

The governor is quick to take credit for Utah’s economy, but his focus on certain statistics makes him blind to the struggles that everyday Utahns continue to experience; for example 265,000 Utahns over the age of 16 earn minimum wage and many parents are forced to have two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Utah can not be considered a family-friendly state when so many working families are falling behind. We need to do more to ensure that Utah’s economy works for everyone and that the state’s focus isn’t just on more jobs, but that it is working to create better jobs.

Growing our economy is more than the number of jobs and the unemployment rate, it’s about whether those jobs pay decent wages, offer good benefits, and allow Utah’s working families to get ahead. The strength of our economy must be measured by the opportunities it creates.

I ran my business with the motto of putting people first. This idea helped my company not only made my company a commercial success but also helped turn my company, CHG Healthcare, into one of the best companies in the nation for its employees. I will bring this same attitude to the state when recruiting and growing businesses in the state; this will mean having the political courage to stand up for everyday Utahns and against special interests for quality jobs.

  • Invest In Our Future Workforce Through Public And Higher Education

The state must do a better job giving our children and young adults the education they need to succeed in the modern economy. This means a reinvestment in public and higher education to pre-recession levels. Investing in education isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.

  • Lay The Groundwork For The Next Generation Of Energy

We need to pay more attenton to rural Utah, and a lack of forward-thinking from the legislature and governor is rappidly sending communities that were built around the extration of 19th and 20th century energy sources such as coal and oil towards economic disaster.

We can not and should not immediatly walk away from these industries, but it is foolish to think that these energy sources will be the only options the world will use to power the globe. Utah stands at a crossroads when it comes to energy production, and rural Utah in particular stands to play a powerful role in the energy production of the future if we make the right decisions today. As your governor, I will work to ensure that Utah is at the forefront of 21st-century energy production that will bring quality jobs to the state.

  • Target And Attract Industries And Companies That Will Bring Better Jobs To Utah

With tax breaks, some of the weakest regulations, and low wages, the governor looks out for business interests only – but we need to balance the scales and make sure we are bringing good jobs to Utah.

As a successful business owner that put employees first, I know that business need to provide honest wages, offer solid benefits, and work within the community they serve. Not only to such businesses make individual employees happy, they help take the burden off of government to provide services.

As governor, I will work every day to make Utah an attractive place for such companies.

Water

The availability of water is one of the most pressing challenges facing the state this century, and, sadly, weak regulations and lax enforcement are sending Utah towards a future similar to the severe droughts we have seen in California in recent years. Utah stands at a crossroads, and politicians are more busy chasing pipe dreams than addressing the real water needs of the state.

Last year the state released a devastating water audit showing that Utah doesn’t even know how bad its water situation is. Why? Because there is little or no data on how much water is available and how that water is actually used. To make matters worse, politicians lack the will to create real reforms that would help us plan for the future.

Utah is the second driest state in the nation, but we also have the second highest water usage per captia. If we fail to plan we plan to fail – and that failure will be devistating to our economy and the people of Utah.

  • Agressivly Push for Statewide Water Metering

Though it may come as a surpise to some, there are many homes, businessess, manufactuers, and farms who simply do not have their water usage measured – instead they pay a flat rate based on assumptions.

It is well known that when people are made aware of just how much water they are using, they will use less. Metering will also allow the state to better understand just how much water it really has and how the people really use it.

In the long run metering will save individuals, companies, and the state money because we will have a better handle on the situation. We must act now to have statewide water metering and support water districts in achieving this goal.

  • Fair Tiered Water Pricing To Pay For Maintenance

Tiered water pricing is a simple idea that politicians are unwilling to act on because it hurts special interests. Why? Because if you use more, you pay more with tiered pricing.

Businesses and industires that are water hogs put a lot of stress on our aging water systems, and we simply are not able to keep up with future needs – the system will break down and the taxpayer will be left holding the bag. By putting into place a tiered water program in the many water districts across the state, big-time water hogs will finally be paying their fair share in keeping the system working.

  • Encourage Rainwater Collection For Residential Use

One innovative idea to come out of the legislature in recent years is the idea of residents collecting rainwater and using it on their lawns. In othere states there were concerns that this plan would mean less water for those needing it downstream (the reason rainwater collection is currently illegal), however studeis have shown that this isn’t the case in the long run.

By allowing residents to collect rainwater, we will take pressure off of our waterways, saving money for the state when it comes to maintenance and for families in the form of lower water bills.

Crime

When compared to national averages, Utah does have low violent crime rates – but this does not mean that we should be happy with the situation. Instances of rape and sexual assault, for example, are actually above average. Sexual assault is not a crime against women, it is a crime against all of us and the state needs to do more to fight sexual assaults at home, at work, and on our college campuses.

I am also deeply concerned about the rise of prescription opioid abuse and the growing heroin epidemic ravaging our families and communities. Throwing people in jail for such crimes is an expensive and ineffective way to treat the issue of drug abuse. By helping those in trouble, we can help people break habits and make them healthy and happy members of our communities.

Utah also continues to struggle with white-collar crime and we need to make sure that law enforcement has the tools necessary to succeed. Though anyone is at risk, identity theft, predatory lending, and fraud tend to target the most vulnerable in our community. We must do more to protect those who may not be able to protect themselves.

  • Criminal Justice Reform

One of the benefits of the law that moved the state prison was, for the first time in decades, lawmakers took a good hard look at criminal justice reform. This past year the trend continued, with Republicans and Democrats came together to redefine dozens of laws as infractions instead of misdemeanors.

As your governor, I will make sure that we don’t let off the gas when it comes to criminal justice reform. By punishing those that are worthy of serious penalties while showing compassion and humanity to those who have simply made a mistake, we can make our communities safer, take the stress off of our courts and prisons, and save the state millions of dollars a year.

  • Hate Crimes Law

It is shameful that Utah is only one of five states that still does not have some form of hate crimes legislation.

Extremists have done a good job scaring people about the idea of hate crimes legislation, but the truth is that some crimes, like those specifically designed to target a groups religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, or national origin are not just harming the individual that suffers the crime, but also everyone within the entire community.

The people of Utah want hate crimes legislation because the people know that everyone, everyone, has some sort of “religious identity,” some sort of “gender,” some sort of “sexual orientation,” and some sort of “national origin.” When crimes are committed to frighten these groups, the damage the crime creates goes beyond one person or one piece of property – it affects all of us.

As governor, I will continue the fight for a real, usable hate crimes law that protects all of us.

  • Close The School To Prison Pipeline

There are many reasons a person may choose a life of crime, but the number one thing that criminals have in common is a poor education. The problem has become so common that there is a term for the laws that push and pull kids out of the classroom and into the courtroom: the school to prison pipeline.

For too long we have focused on punishing children rather than rehabilitating them when they commit offences. Punishments pull children out of the classroom, causing them to fall behind in education and potentially not graduating high school. With no high school diploma, they have little chance of success finding a quality job. Because they can not find a legitimate job, they turn to crime as a way to support themselves.

We can nip the school to prison pipeline in the bud if we focus on giving children a quality education and put more care and attention towards the reasons why a child may be acting out in the first place. By investing in our children now, we can save money and make Utah a better place for all her people.

Partisanship

The stink of partisanship from career politicians on Capitol Hill and from the Governor’s Office has been growing for years – and it costs you real money. When special interests defund our schools and dirty our air, when politicians make sweet deals for property owners, or when out-and-out corruption takes place (like what we recently saw in the Attorney General’s office), it becomes obvious that the people deserve more balanced government to keep everyone in check and to truly work for the people.

Real estate agents, construction and manufacturing owners, insurance brokers, health care administrators, private educators, bankers, and various presidents of special interest organizations spend 45 days as lawmakers – passing laws that help themselves and their friends  while largely ignoring the voice of the people. Their work goes unchecked by a governor who is more concerned with keeping friends happy than helping the state – all in the name of putting politics for the people.

Your hard-earned taxpayer dollars have gone towards multi-million dollar lawsuits on cases the current Attorney General has called unwinnable, towards keeping losing contractors quiet during billion dollar construction projects, propping up power company monopolies who want to continue to dirty the air at the expense of solar, and putting $53 million of public money towards a water port in California (a port that will benefit a company that donated directly to the governor and several high-ranking politicians).

Utah taxpayers deserve more accountability from their legislature and depend on the governor to be the voice of all Utahns, but the current partisan governor has done nothing to put the legislature in check. Right now there is no debate, no discussion, and no consideration of real ways to improve education, health care, air quality, and the economy. Everyday Utahns are ready for balance in government.

One party politics has not worked for the people, and we shouldn’t think that one party politics will work for the people.

  • People Over Politics

For far too long, politicians have been comfortable with handing out sweet deals for their friends and their campaign contributors while putting the average Utahn second. As your governor, I will stand up to the lawmakers who push for laws that benefit few at the expense of the many.

We need more balance in government, and as your governor, I will bring it.

  • Speak Softly

No political party has all the answers, and no lawmaker does either. My door will be open to all who want to talk openly and honestly about the issues that concern them and I will work together with all parties to find the solutions that are best for everyday Utahns.

I have built my career on making sure that people feel respected and have a voice, and this won’t change when I become governor.

  • Carry a Big Stick

Though teamwork and cooperation are important, that doesn’t mean that I will always see eye-to-eye with politicians – especially when they are trying to pass laws that help their friends. I will not shy away from vetoing bad bills just to make political party leadership.

My job is to work for the people.

Homelessness and Poverty

A rising tide should lift all boats, but a boat that is tied down will become flooded and sink. Here in Utah, too many families are suffering because of economic policies that benefit politicians and not people. I firmly believe that those who work hard should be able to have a roof over their head and food on the table – and I believe that homelessness and poverty are both moral and economic issues the state must address.

Homelessness and poverty put real strains of city, county, and state budgets – and for far too long politicians have been using your hard-earned taxpayer dollars to pay for a pound of cure when an ounce of prevention will do the trick. By stopping poverty before it starts, the state will be able to spend less on social services and law enforcement while lifting people out of poverty.

Addressing homelessness and poverty are also moral issues. From its founding, the people of Utah have prided themselves on the virtues of charity, compassion, and kindness for those who are struggling to make ends meet. Utahns can do better, Utahns want to do better, and as your governor, I  will make sure that we do all we can to lift people out of poverty.

  • Push To End Intergenerational Poverty

One of the most important long-term solutions to reducing and eliminating poverty and homelessness in the state is to stop it before it starts.

Each day we are learning more and more about how poverty can be passed down from parent to child, generation after generation. There are many complex reasons explaining why this happens, but one silver bullet exists to help combat intergenerational poverty: education.

Our children need help, and we can give children and parents the tools they need to succeed by properly funding our public schools, providing more after school programs, and by making pre-K education available to all parents with young children. These programs are not handouts, they are ways to provide Utahns the opportunities they need to succeed.

By investing in our children now, the state will save millions in the long run and improve the lives of countless Utahns.

  • Advancing Housing-First Programs

The state needs to further invest in programs that help families and individuals access affordable housing. By getting people off of the streets and into homes, the state will provide much-needed stability to those who need it most. A home means an address, and an address means that a person can apply for jobs and children know which schools they will be attending.

In recent years we have seen great successes from programs designed to reduce chronic homelessness – and housing-first programs have been at the center of these programs. Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas. In Salt Lake City alone there is an estimated 8,000 home shortage of affordable homes. By expanding on these programs, we can save the state real money (as has already been demonstrated) and allow people to focus on building the skills they need to get and keep  good jobs.

  • Full Medicaid Expansion And Fighting For Quality Jobs

As I have said before, we need to expand Medicaid to ensure that families are not forced into bankruptcy and homelessness because fate was unkind and strike a child, parent, or grandparent ill. By expanding health insurance, we can ensure that health issues won’t upend families and end up costing the state more.

Also, by working to create more quality jobs, from blue collar to white collar, we can help lift people out of poverty – reducing the number of people on social assistance and better helping those who still need it.

The Outdoors

Utah is the most beautiful state in the nation and I want to make sure it stays that way. Unfortunately, special interests want to take our land and make it their own – leaving a few the scraps for the state’s 23.5 million visitors each year. To make matters worse, these same special interests are using your taxpayer dollars to fight a losing court battle in an attempt take these lands away from the public.

Politicians have already set aside $2 million on this fight and plan to spend an additional $12 million more if need be. The Attorney General, several legal scholars, and even a basic reading of the Utah Constitution will tell you that this case is unwinnable – but politics is winning out. In fact, the only people that think they can win a lawsuit are a handful of politicians and the lawyers that will be paid to fight the case. I know the voters see this plan for what it really is: a way to sell off our land to the highest bitter to allow developers and industrial interests make a profit off of our land. It is time to put people before politics.

I know that the people have legitimate concerns about the management of our outdoors, and as your governor I will work to balance the scales – but I also know that the current call for an out-and-out land grab would not only cost the state millions (if not billions) but also creates a hostility between groups that only pushes us further apart. Deals have been made in the past when tensions were not so high, and I know similar deals can be made when we dial down the anger and turn up the dialogue.

  • Land Use For Generations To Come

It is selfish to sell our lands to the highest bidder just to get the one-time funds that come from the selling oil, natural gas, coal, and lumber. Now, let me be clear: we can not and should not shut down our mines, wells, and lumber industries tomorrow, but we always need to keep in mind that the land doesn’t just belong to just us – it belongs to our children and our children’s children.

We need to begin to transition away from viewing our outdoors as a get-rich-quick strategy and instead cultivate it for usage for centuries to come. This means a continued emphasis on public access and preservation for all stripes and I will work to protect the outdoors for all Utahns as well as her visitors.

  • Fight For PILT Payments

The federal government has in recent years fallen short on its Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments, and there is no guarantee that these funds will come as Washington D.C. continues to make cuts to the program. These PILT funds are specifically designed to pay back the state for the land the federal government doesn’t develop and are vital to rural Utah.

I will work with our congressional delegation to ensure that these funds are safe and secure so that the federal government is holding up its end of the deal. Unfortunately, some D.C. lawmakers are too busy blindly cutting programs to realize that there is a real effect on our state. As your governor, I will make sure your voice is heard.

  • Build Relationships And Evaluate True Costs

The political landscape has grown toxic and the best course of action is to start fresh with a new governor. Past administrations have been able to work with the federal government and there is no reason why future ones can not either – but this means that we don’t push our federal partners away.

Despite what some politicians may think, very few think that Utah would be on the winning side of any lawsuit – despite this, the legislature passed a law this year that would set up new government agencies to handle any land-grab…without saying how much it would cost. The people deserve to know what these costs would be and ask the politicians and special interests if they really think this is the best plan for Utah.

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