Public and Higher Education needs to remain our number one budget priority. We have made great strides in education funding over the past four years and we need to continue to do so. I belive our teachers are heroes and they deserve to make a decent living.
Our responsibility does not stop there, however. We also need to explore new methods of providing our young students with an excellent education. Money, alone, will not get the job done.
Citizens of Utah have been taxed too often and much too liberally. Too many programs crowd the budget and many people have come to feel entitled to their piece of the pie. Government was never meant to provide so much to so many. I sincerely believe we need to return to our historic belief in personal responsibility. That said, there are some things only government can do for a society. In those areas we need to be efficient, compassionate, and effective.
The principle of personal responsibility also factors into this equation. Taking charge of one's own life cultivates personal pride and dignity. A citizen in the most humble of circumstances will enjoy that dignity if he chooses to live and value such a life. At times, however, a hand up is necessary. When all other sources have been tried, then our society should help out. Government, however, should never take over a person's life.
I am pleased that Utah is looking at this problem in a very serious yet careful way. We passed fairly sweeping legislation to deal with the issue but delayed the implementation date by one year. We are using this time to scrutinize the myriad aspects of the problem and make sure the new law is the right way to go. A task force of legislators is currently engaged in this legislative equivelent of measuring twice, cutting once.
People on both sides of the issue are very emotional and vocal about their opinions and what they see as the ‘absolute truth’. The task force is hearing some very compelling testimony from both sides and learning the real facts about the problem, including just what can and cannot be done at the state level. I will support the recommendations of the task force.
Health Care Reform
Our health care system touches the lives of every resident of this state. We need reform but when we tweak the system on one side then the other side complains. All sides must come together in the spirit of creativity and compromise or the current system will end in disaster. We are speeding down a dead end street, and universal health coverage with government being the single payer, and thus the controller is, of course, the inevitable crash point if we don't act soon. I believe the appropriate role of Government is mediator with a club standing in the middle and ready to force a compromise, if necessary. When that is accomplished, government should back off, let the solution work and be as little involved as possible.
I have always believed that government only does a few things very well. My close proximity over the past years hasn't changed my opinion very much. My job as state senator is to keep government out of your lives just as much as it is to appropriately apply and manage government solutions.Integrity
The legislative process is at best a complicated affair. A legislator without integrity is on a hopelessly downward spiral. I have personally found that by far the majority of decisions made in the legislative process are made for the right reasons and in accordance with that individual's true feelings. Occasionally ‘politics’ enters into the process, but not as often as many want to believe. Personal integrity is an absolute must in a legislator. I'm not perfect, but I do strive to represent you with integrity. If you ever percieve otherwise, you need to let me know.
Prior public service and a lifetime worth of career experience has taught me to look critically at issues and not just accept face value. Some people, between putting their spin on an issue and using statistics to ‘prove’ a point, can seem very solid and persuasive at first blush. A good legislator must read between the lines and consult the experts before arriving at a decision. I’ve also learned not to fear making a decision, even when some around you disagree.
Roughly 100,000 people live in our district. I hear from some of you quite often and others (most of you) very rarely. Please don't hesitate to contact me. I do appreciate thoughtful input; it helps me form opinions and thus my positions (and votes) on issues. Recognizing that I’m human, there is no one out there that I will agree with all the time(and there are probably a few of you with whom I will never agree) but I still appreciate the contact. It has a very positive effect on my ability to represent you well.
I feel that those of you who entrusted me with this office did so because of who I am and how I am likely to think in most situations. There have been numerous occasions where I was able to help an individual in my district solve a specific problem. I always welcome those opportunities to serve.
I love associating with good people. In my years of service I have found many good and even great people in our district and I appreciate each one of you.
I'm honored to be counted as a represenative of the people and your representative in the Utah State Senate. Thank you for trusting me with that responsibility.
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