There are two tales about the economy in Utah right now – one built on facts from actual economic indicators and one based on plain hype. Today I will discuss the real facts about the state of our economy. I will tell the tale of two starkly different forecasts for Utah. I will also present the Utah1, the Cooke-Rampton Economic plan for our future.
Utah has always been a great place to live, to work and to do business. But the people of Utah and leaders in the business community want elected officials to tell them the facts about where Utah’s economy stands today. They want honesty and transparency.
It’s time we faced the brutal facts. It’s time for leadership, not salesmanship. It’s time that the facts had their day.
Let’s pull back the curtain on our economy.
Efficient and effective governance requires competence, accountability and integrity. Unfortunately the current administration has fallen short of the mark:
• $13 million payoff for failed bidder after botched Utah Department of Transportation (“UDOT”) bidding process.
• Summary firing and rehiring of Denise Graham, UDOT debacle whistle blower.
• Gubernatorial incompetence in dealing with the scandal and mismanagement of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“DABC”).
• $25 million dollar shortfall in education budget.
• Medicaid records breach by hackers and theft of 800,000 Utahns’ personal records.
Hill Air Force Base has long been a pillar of Utah’s economy. It is the sixth largest employer in our State. However, due to potential military spending cuts, Hill is at risk of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Thousands of Utah families could be affected and Utah could lose an indispensable economic resource. My service on the Armed Reserve Forces Policy Committee (ARFPC), and the working relationships I developed with Pentagon officials of the highest rank in my 39-year military career, makes me uniquely qualified to defend Hill Air Force Base from BRAC. I am the best candidate to ensure Hill Air Force Base stays open and to defend the state’s on-base jobs.
As a father of four children in Utah public schools, I am personally invested in our public education system and will fight for its continued success. Investing in public schools is key not just to our state’s economic competitiveness, security and prosperity, but also to our quality of life and to our children’s future.
However, due to our state’s growing population and unstable economy, legislative support for public education is on the decline, forcing our teachers to do more with less, leaving our children ill-equipped to handle the challenges of their future jobs and putting our state’s long-term economic prospects in jeopardy. For decades, Utah has lingered at the bottom of national rankings in per-pupil spending and per-teacher class size. It is time for this to end.
Utah’s industries depend on access to inexpensive, dependable energy sources such as clean coal and natural gas. Yet it is critical that we use these resources in a way that is smart, efficient and beneficial to public health. As Governor, I will encourage the responsible and safe use of coal and natural gas to balance our energy needs and our families’ well being. Additionally, Utah is blessed with tremendous wind and solar resources that we are only beginning to tap. I will encourage the development of projects like the extremely successful Milford Wind Corridor Project to prepare Utah to lead the west in the burgeoning renewable energy market.
A streamlined, fair tax system spurs economic growth by allowing middle-class Utah families to keep and spend more of their income. I will search for innovative yet pragmatic ways to trim fat in the tax code, close wasteful loopholes and reduce the tax burden on Utah families. For example, I will seek to reduce property taxes on Utah homeowners by ending taxpayer subsidies for municipal water rates.
Utah needs an affordable and top-notch higher education system to compete in the global economy and to prepare the next generation of Utahns for successful careers. I will strengthen the state university system by directing more state funds to higher education. I will also promote alternative, affordable education options such as applied technical training in the medical and computer technology fields. Furthermore, I will initiate a loan-repayment program called Utah Service Corps.
Utah is the second driest state in the nation in terms of annual rainfall. As Utah’s population grows, it will be increasingly important to manage our water resources scrupulously. For this reason, I will oppose actions that damage critical watersheds or unduly overuse water resources. For example, I will also oppose the construction of any nuclear power plant that would displace senior water rights. I will also require an environmental impact study before supporting Skilink or other significant developments in the state’s important watersheds.
I recognize and value Utah’s immigrants and their contributions to the state. Utah was built in part by immigrants who traveled thousands of miles to start new lives in the west. For these reasons, I support a pragmatic, compassionate approach to immigration. The Utah Compact on Immigration is a model of such pragmatism and compassion. Federal immigration laws must be enforced as written. However, we need to promote policies that keep families together and that do not punish young people who were brought here through no fault of their own. We also need to crack down on human trafficking and businesses which are unduly exploitative of immigrant labor.
As the foundation of Utah’s outdoor recreation industry, federal public lands are a crucial component of Utah’s economy. In 2010, tourism brought over $6.5 billion dollars to the state. Much of this revenue depends on open public access to public lands. The privatization of the land will endanger Utah’s outdoor recreation industry and all the good it brings to the state. I will veto legislation authorizing frivolous, expensive and embarrassing message lawsuits against the federal government. I am prepared to handle our public land concerns in a reasonable, realistic way: by engaging in serious dialogue with the federal government and forming consensus on how Utah can take a greater role in managing and benefitting from the lands.
As a retired Major General in the Army Reserves, I understand the cause and calling of Utahns who have fought and sacrificed for our freedoms. I understand their commitment to our country, their selfless expressions of courage and bravery and their motivation to put nation and unit before self. Our Veterans represent the sort of patriotism, leadership and character Utah needs to see in our elected officials. I will make sure Utah’s veterans receive the resources they deserve and have earned through their service. The state should officially recognize our veterans for their service and sacrifice.
As Governor, I will uphold the Utah Constitution as it pertains to the issue of marriage. However, I will aggressively work for anti-discrimination laws to be enacted statewide.
As Governor, I will uphold the Utah Constitution’s directive on abortion, supporting the measure only in the cases of rape, incest, when the mother’s health is in jeopardy or when the fetus is deemed to have defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. I will not change abortion laws as Governor.