By Evan Vickers
Senator-elect, District 28
Legislative Session Has Challenges, Potential
The election is over and the dust is finally settling on the national scene, as well as on at least one congressional race in Utah. All the so-called political experts have their never-ending opinions on why things turned out the way they did, but I think most people realize it’s now time to move on and get to work.
The biggest challenge the Utah Legislature has this year is to keep Utah the best-managed state in the Union. We’ve seen some positive momentum with the economy, and need to do everything we can to keep that going. More importantly, we must not do anything to hinder economic growth.
We face some challenges that we have to overcome. First, with the election results, we now know that the health care reform, or Obamacare, is here to stay, and we have to deal with the realities of that. Utah does have the option to decline some of the adult coverage expansion in Medicaid, which will be controversial but saves money. However, Utah will still have to fund $40 million in additional costs starting in 2014, rising to more than $150 million in 2017. Second, we have the constant challenge of how to improve and better fund our children’s public education. Third, we need to find ways to get more higher education students to complete their degrees and do it in a more timely fashion.
The governor’s 2020 Initiative is definitely a step in the right direction with the goal of 66 percent of Utahns securing a post-secondary certificate or diploma by 2020. The College and Career Readiness programs (CCRs) that our Southern Utah secondary schools are already implementing help students to think beyond high school graduation and give them the tools and skills they need to eventually complete their degrees at a technical school, ATC, college or university.
In my senate district, we have some important projects to work on:
• Getting the new Southwest Applied Technology building built. It’s been near the top of the Utah Legislative Building Board list for three years, and hopefully this year we can secure the funding to start building.
• Moving forward with legislation to change Dixie State College to university status.
• State funding for the new Utah Shakespeare Festival building, so our area economy can start reaping the benefits of additional visitors.
• Road and water issues, including the Lake Powell pipeline, in all of Southern Utah require legislative action and leadership.
• The ongoing battle with the federal government over more control of our public lands and prairie dogs is a fight that needs to be continued.
In some ways, it’s a challenging time for the Utah Legislature, yet I also see it as an exciting time with tremendous potential.
Southern Utah is such a beautiful place to live, and we have so much to offer. If we work together, we can continue to see great things happen here.
Published November 18, 2012 in The Spectrum