Utah’s Strong Economy
Helping you stay informed and educated.
Here are my thoughts about upcoming legislation that keeps our state healthy for the long term. I hope you will watch:
Sound Policy and Sound Management
Utah continues to recover from the last recession in an admirable position, #4 in the nation.
Here are a few statistics that may be of interest:
Unemployment decline from recession peak: 3.1 percentage points
Peak unemployment: 8.3%
Current unemployment: 5.2% (tied-5th lowest)
GDP growth 2011: 2.0% (8th highest)
You can read more about Utah’s recovery in the The States That Recovered Most (and Least) from the Recession.
For the third year in a row, Forbes named Utah as America’s “Best State for Business”. Since 2006, our economy’s annual expansion rate has averaged at 2.3%. The national average for the same years is .05%. Our energy costs, which are 27% below the national average and the fact that we are one of only seven states who still has an AAA bond rating–something that even the United States no longer has–are two of the factors that have given us that number one ranking. Here is the link to Forbe’s article Utah Tops the list of Best States for Business.
I am optimistic about our revenue because of our sound management practices. We are a well-managed state, however, we are still part of the national economy. The federal government currently borrows 46 cents of every dollar they spend. That is not sustainable. 40% of Utah’s spending is from federal money, so that means that just over one-third of what we use as spending money on our state programs comes from a source that is not financially sound and over which that we have no control. As a result, we must be especially prudent. It seems that the wisest thing to do right now is adopt a “wait and see” approach until we see what happens at the federal level before approving new expenditures.
Another area of focus will be healthcare options. The health exchange system created by Utah several years ago was just given preliminary approval by the federal government. I am pleased that we have been granted that provisional waiver. It gives us some options we would not otherwise have had. However, the final decision has not been made as to which exchange system we will use.
Currently there are two camps of thought on this subject. One is that Utah can indeed do this on our own. We have done a good job with what we have done so far. Our health exchange (called Avenue H) is market based, which is important for our economy and if we take this option we will have the flexibility to make the program work for the individual needs of our state. The other line of thought is that the mandate for health care was a federal initiative and therefore the federal government should have to deal with the implementation and administration and any problems that come with that.
Utah is under a rather intense time frame to make this critical decision. If we do decide to use our own exchange, it will actually take quite a bit of work and money to get it to exactly the point where the federal government will fully accept it.
As you can see there will be many things to consider. I will do my best to represent you in the decisions we need to make.
Tracking Bills in the Session
The bills to be discussed during the session are being written everyday. If you would like to keep track of any sort of legislation or any particular bill you can do it very easily on our website. Here is the link to the bill search page.
There are plenty of ways for you to keep track of what is going on during the session.
Every floor session of both houses is live streamed and every committee meeting is broadcast. The links will be on the main web page each day under the Audio/Video tab. (On that same tab you can even hear archived recordings from past sessions.)
Here is my Facebook page.
The Senate also has a blog where you can read some more in-depth explanations about what we are doing and leave your comments.
Click this link to email me. My phone is 801-361-5802.
Let me know if you have any concerns or questions. Because session can get very busy, please be patient if it takes me a while to respond. I will do my very best to answer whatever question you have as soon as possible.
We are working harder than ever to make government open, transparent and accessible.
It is an honor to represent you. In my next email home, I’d like to introduce you to some of the bills and issues, I’m working on including an additional measure to increase accessibility for the public to public records through enhanced GRAMA efforts.