What should new Utah governor’s focus be for 2021?

 

1-13-2021

 

What should the new Cox/Henderson administration focus on in the areas of budget and taxes, policies and programs in 2021?

 

Alison Anderson: I was glad to support Spencer Cox for governor and feel he understands my point of view and has the best interest of rural Utah at heart.

Regarding what Cox and Henderson should focus on during their first year in office, they’ve specified the following priorities:

Rebuild our Economy

Although Utah has been spared the worst economic effects of the pandemic, we still have lost tens of thousands of jobs. Many small, local businesses are suffering. I hope they honor their pledge to help these citizens and businesses.

Unleashing Education

Cox and Henderson want to increase teacher salaries—giving teachers more robust salaries will attract brighter, more gifted young people to teaching.

Restoring Rural Utah

My husband and I went to Fairview to see Cox and Henderson speak following their swearing in. As we waited for them to arrive, I looked up and down Fairview’s Main Street where there are many shuttered businesses. The needs of Spencer Cox’s home county will be on his mind as he encourages businesses on the Wasatch Front and from outside the state to expand to rural Utah. He can also steer state funds to improve roads, to develop business districts and create grant programs.

Transforming Politics

Spencer Cox debated Chris Peterson before the election; both candidates were civil, good humored and articulate in discussing their differences on issues.

Cox is never a bully; he takes responsibility, and he accepts input from authoritative sources. A great role model may be just what we need, in Utah and in our country.

I would also suggest that as the most powerful Republican in our state, he reaches across the aisle to include capable Democrats in his administration. We can always hope, right?

Steve Clark: Thank goodness our transition in Utah was more peaceful and orderly than what we witnessed in Washington D.C.

The most important issue on the table from the previous administration is the pandemic and healing the damage it has done to our business community. The way the new governor handles this issue will give us our first glimpse at how he handles governing in crisis conditions.

One of the first things the Cox administration will face is the issue of redistricting. Ten years ago this issue propelled Spencer Cox into the trajectory that finds him as governor today.

Back then, Sanpete County was divided into three Utah House districts, with each district containing extensive additional territory outside the county. This setup practically guaranteed a Sanpete County candidate would never be elected to the Utah House of Representatives.

We worked hard and erased that division, combining populated areas of Sanpete and Juab counties in a single district. The result: Spencer Cox was elected to the 58th District House seat and started his climb toward the governorship.

Today we have a similar situation at the federal level with our county divided into two separate congressional districts. We will be working to see that that the entire county falls into one congressional district. We call on Gov. Cox to support that effort.

Indeed, education will be a very high priority in the Cox administration. Utah teacher salaries are a huge problem, but so are the hugely expensive Taj Mahalic edifices that cater only to the most expensive models of dispensing education.

I urge our governor to give home schooling a new emphasis and new resources with the goal of increasing the effectiveness and decreasing the costs of education.

Back to you, Alison.

Steve, I agree that coping with the pandemic will be Gov. Cox’s top priority in early 2021. He’ll follow advice from Dr. Angela Dunn, our state epidemiologist, as well as other doctors and scientists.

This will mean further encouragement of mask-wearing and social distancing, a hard sell for some Utahns.

“Personal freedom” must always be weighed against “the greater good.” Steve, would you like to speak to encouraging your Republican allies to assist Cox in quelling the pandemic, so Utah businesses can get back on track?

I’m glad you raised the issue of redistricting. Wouldn’t it be great if Utah’s districts weren’t one of the most blatant examples of gerrymandering in our nation?  And in spite of a statewide voter-supported mandate to create a bipartisan committee to establish fair districting, our Republican-dominated legislature has insisted in continuing the practice.

I agree that enormous schools aren’t the best way to spend our education dollars, although our students must be technology-literate and mentored by teachers able to earn a living wage from their teaching jobs.

Saving education dollars by substituting home schooling is not the answer. I’ve seen the full range of results of home schooling—from diligent parents with rigorous curriculum efficiently teach their own children to high school-age children who have been home-schooled who can barely read are completely unprepared for life in the outside world.

Home schooling is not even possible for children in single-parent homes or homes where two full-time incomes are necessary for survival. And social integration and language acquisition are essential for children of immigrants. Steve, solid public schools are essential to our state’s economic and social future.

Steve’s response:

I do encourage my anti-masker friends to mask-up for the short time it will take to break the back of this pandemic. As to anti-vaccers, that is a personal issue that each will have to decide for themselves. As for me, I will get my arm poked at the earliest opportunity.

I agree that there are flaws in home-schooling and standards need to be established. Perhaps the answer is a hybrid system that incorporates the best of each. A task-force to study the issue might be in order.

I would like to see a proliferation of charter schools that put parents more in charge of the curriculum rather than the state government.

From Sanpete County’s view, rural economic development has to be at the top of new administration’s the list. Having our best and brightest children as our most valuable export has to stop.

I have long advocated for tax incentives as a means of encouraging Wasatch Front businesses to locate expansion facilities in rural counties. I believe the state needs to create a fund dedicated to attracting outside enterprises to rural counties.

The Wasatch Front would benefit from reduced air pollution and putting the brakes on continually upgrading of infrastructure, while rural Utah would win by having more and better jobs.

I applaud Cox’s election and wish him the best, but many conservatives view his conservatism skeptically and are reserving judgment to see where he will take the state on taxes, school choice, the size of government and other issues.

I, for one, welcome the prospect of having a native son as governor and what that can mean for Sanpete County.

 

Alison Anderson