- Jobs and the Economy
- Taxes and Government Spending
- Women's Issues
- Partisanship and Government Reform
- The Outdoors
The strength of our economy should be measured by more than just the number of jobs and unemployment rate. We need to create better jobs that pay a living wage, offer good benefits, and allow working families to get ahead, but every day hundreds of thousands of Utahns are paid minimum wage. Tax breaks, weak regulations, and low wages are not bringing good jobs to Utah. We have enough $10 an hour jobs, but what we need is more $10,000 a month jobs.
I ran my business with the motto of putting people first, even before profits. This idea helped turn my company, CHG Healthcare, into one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” in the nation. I will bring that 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.
As governor, I will:
- Return education funding to pre-recession levels to give the next generation the education they need to succeed in the modern economy;
- Ensure Utah is at the forefront of 21st-century energy production (learn more on AIR QUALITY) that will bring quality jobs to the state. Communities in rural Utah that were built around coal and oil and without intervention, will be headed towards economic disaster if we don’t lead now and plan for the future;
- Encourage businesses to provide honest wages and offer solid benefits; and
- Raise the minimum wage to fight against poverty.
The governor loves to boast that he has balanced the budget every year, making it seem like he’s single-handedly stopped the state from running a deficit. What he won’t tell you that our state constitution actually requires a balanced budget.
A balanced budget is important for the good of the state and, as a successful business owner, I know how devastating high tax rates can be for business and families. However, cutting taxes year after year has had a disastrous effect on our schools, roads, public works, and social services. In 2007, Utah moved from a progressive tax to a 5% flat tax, costing us $479 million each year. Without an educated workforce, safe roads, efficient water systems, and safe communities, businesses will not want to set up shop in Utah—and that is not a Utah I want to live in.
As governor, I propose an income tax increase for the top 1.5% of all Utahns (including myself): a 1% increase for those households earning between $250,000 and $1 million a year and 2% for those earning over $1 million. This small change will bring nearly $179 million to our schools.
I believe the government should have to prove the need for any tax increase and smartly manage all tax dollars, but we should not be so fearful of tax increases that our state suffers from not being able to fund vital services. The best way to attract businesses and create jobs is to have strong infrastructure and quality schools.
Utah is consistently rated one of the worst states for women in terms of health care, employment and leadership, and safety. As governor, I will work tirelessly to change that reputation.
Women’s Health Care
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 will never cut funding to Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides many Utahns with affordable access to vital health care services and decreases the number of unintended pregnancies. As governor, I will make sure that programs are in place to make abortions safe, legal, and rare.
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. I believe in equal pay for equal work and at CHG Healthcare I worked hard 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.
As governor, I will ensure that public and private employers in Utah are complying with state and federal equal pay laws and remove barriers to compensation for those who have faced illegal wage discrimination. We also need to make it easier for women to remain in the workforce through programs like paid family leave, because when women can balance work and family, our economy grows. Further, we need to increase the wages women earn, both by raising the minimum wage and encouraging more girls and women to study STEM fields (Learn more about EDUCATION here).
Utah women are more likely to experience sexual assault than other women in America. I will make sure every single rape kit is tested and the results are entered into a database. We also need comprehensive sex education, including affirmative consent, so that rates of sexual assault decrease, especially on college campuses.
Every year, real estate agents, construction and manufacturing owners, insurance brokers, health care administrators, private educators, and bankers spend 45 days as lawmakers, passing laws that help themselves, their friends, and their industries while ignoring the voice of the people. These conflicts of interest go unchecked by a governor who is more concerned with keeping his friends happy than helping the rest of the state.
Only 39% of Utahns are satisfied with our legislature and we have one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. Utahns are discouraged when politicians don’t represent their interests and instead cater to special interest groups and increased polarization. We deserve more accountability from our legislature and depend on the governor to be the voice of all Utahns, but the current governor has done nothing to put the legislature in check. As governor, I will require public debate, implement campaign finance reform, and put people over politics.
Open Discussion Is Necessary
No political party or lawmaker has all the answers. Open discussion, constructive disagreement, and dissension will bring the best outcome to the people of Utah. 91% of Utahns believe that legislative meetings should be held in public. Utahns can’t tolerate closed door deals that seem to favor the few and ignore the will of the majority. I will demand all state agencies hold public input sessions and stay away from closed-door deals.
Campaign Finance Reform
The majority of Utahns believe that more restrictive campaign finance laws are necessary. The governor should be an ethical example, not sell his time to lobbyists and special interest groups for the sake of an election. I refuse to accept donations from corporations and special interests, and will be a voice for the people who can’t afford their own lobbyist. I pledge to be available to the public two days a month, no appointments or checkbooks necessary.
People Over Politics
Although teamwork and cooperation are important, I know I won’t always see eye-to-eye with other politicians—especially when they try to pass laws that help their friends. I will not shy away from vetoing bad bills. My job will be to work for the people of Utah, not special interests groups and lobbyists.
Utah is the second driest state in the nation but has the second-highest water usage per capita.
Politicians have ignored this problem, and many homes, businesses, manufacturers, and farms simply do not have their water usage measured—they pay a flat rate no matter how much they use. When people are made aware of their use and pay for their consumption, they use less.
As governor, I will:
- Require statewide water metering to better understand just how much water Utah really has and how the people really use it to save individuals, companies, and the state money;
- Promote tiered water pricing to ensure water hogs will finally pay their fair share;
- Allow residents to collect rainwater to lower their water bills, take pressure off of our waterways, and save the state money on maintenance; and
- Encourage xeriscaping at state facilities.
While Utah is generally considered a safe place to live, we can do better. Instances of rape and sexual assault are actually higher than the national average, Utah has one of the highest rates of financial affinity fraud, and prescription opioid and heroin abuse are destroying Utah families. We are incarcerating too many people for minor, non-violent offenses. By punishing those who 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 from our court system and prisons, and save millions of dollars each year.
As governor, I will continue to advance reform of our criminal justice system by advocating for treatment of underlying mental illness and addiction, ensuring adequate indigent defense, creating a real hate crimes law, and ending the school to prison pipeline.
Treating Mental Health and Addiction
Many people in our jails and prisons suffer from underlying mental illness and addiction. Without adequate treatment, they continue to cycle in and out of jails and prisons, costing us real money and destroying families. A major part of criminal justice reform is increasing mental health coverage. Utah can’t afford to underfund mental health evaluations and treatment for those in need. In 2015, over 150,000 Utahns needed mental health treatment but the State only funded treatment for fewer than 32,000. I will increase funding to mental health services and expand Medicaid.
Our law enforcement officers are also often the first responders to mental health emergencies, but lack the training to identify those situations and respond appropriately. I will work to ensure every peace officer, first responder, and dispatcher receives crisis and de-escalation intervention training (CIT). I will also work to fund more mental health counselors and treatment options into law enforcement’s outreach and post-arrest screening efforts. Under my administration, jails and prisons will not be considered mental health treatment facilities.
Funding Indigent Defense
Utah is one of the few states in the country that delegates indigent defense funding to the counties, meaning many public defenders are overworked and unable to provide adequate defense. Our justice system depends on fair trials where both sides have access to an attorney, and Utah needs to do more to protect the 6th Amendment right to counsel. I will work to create a state-wide public defense agency, or a fairer funding mechanism, so smaller counties stop struggling to fund indigent defense.
Creating A Real Hate Crimes Law
Crimes that target a person’s ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation are especially heinous and deserve harsher punishment. Hate crimes not only harm victims, but also their entire community. Utah does not have a felony hate crimes law and is one of only 15 states that does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity. As governor, I will continue the fight for a real hate crimes law that protects all of us, especially minorities that need a voice.
Closing The School to Prison Pipeline
For too long, schools have given overly-harsh punishments to some children, often in conjunction with law enforcement and school resource officers. Children with disabilities and children of color are much more likely to be targeted by these practices, funneling them into the criminal justice system rather than into higher education. These punishments pull children out of the classroom, causing them to fall behind in education, potentially failing to graduate and have criminal record early on in life. Utah needs a more comprehensive reform to prevent minor school disciplinary issues from being punished as crimes. I will fight to stop the school to prison pipeline, and as governor, I will invest the necessary resources to tackle this problem.
In Utah, too many families are suffering because of economic policies that benefit politicians, their friends, and campaign donors, but not the people who elected them. I come from a blue-collar background and it took many years of sacrifice and effort to be successful. I worked in a factory until I was nearly 30 and graduated from night school. I am a firm believer that those who work hard should be able to have a roof over their head and food on the table.
Unlike other politicians, I won’t lie and say our economy is perfect. The middle class is shrinking, too many of our families live in fear of losing everything, and children are going hungry. When we reduce poverty, our communities will spend less on social services and law enforcement while giving people financial freedom.
Policymakers are learning more about the ways poverty is passed down from parent to child, generation after generation. Our children need help, and we can give children and parents the tools they need to succeed and rise out of poverty by properly funding our public schools. Access to affordable health care and a strong job market are also vital tools in the fight against poverty.
Rents are rising much faster than wages, and low income and affordable housing initiatives have never been more important. A person in Utah needs to make $32,501 a year to afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Those earning minimum wage ($7.25/hr) must work 86 hours a week to make rent each month. By getting people off the streets and into safe homes, the state will provide much-needed stability to those who need it most. I will encourage local governments to adopt policies to meet their specific housing needs.
Utah is one of the prettiest places to live in America, and I want to make sure it stays that way.
Unfortunately, special interests are trying to take and exploit our public lands, preventing future generations from enjoying Utah’s natural beauty.
Over 23 million people visit Utah each year, many to our national parks and other public lands. Unfortunately, our legislature plans to fight a losing court battle to take away these lands from the public and sell to the highest bidder. They have already set aside $2 million and plan to spend an additional $12 million if necessary. As Governor, I will stop spending money to fight an unwinnable lawsuit to give our protected lands to special interests. We need to stop viewing public lands as a get-rich-quick strategy and instead work to preserve and protect our land.
The federal government has in recent years fallen short on its Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments. There is no guarantee that these funds will come as Washington D.C. continues to make cuts to the program. These 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 their end of the deal.