Conservatives are fond of saying they want government to run more like a private business, and with good reason. Businesses deliver what people want in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and they understand what is needed in order for commerce to flow optimally.
And so it is disturbing that the state Senate Republic caucus would reject, with little real thought or effort, a plea by the Salt Lake Chamber whose president and CEO, by the way, is a former Senate majority leader to put a transportation-funding measure on the ballot in November.
The chamber wasn't asking lawmakers to raise taxes outright. It just wanted the people of Utah to make that decision, based on sound facts and projections that ought to make every business owner concerned.
Here, by the way, are a few of those facts and projections:
Utah's population grew by 78,000 last year alone. Between now and 2030, an additional 1.5 million people will inhabit the state.
Traffic on Utah's roads is increasing at a rate about twice the population growth.
Right now, it takes an average of 40 minutes to drive from Salt Lake City to South Jordan. At current spending levels, that is expected to rise to 60 minutes by 2030. A trip from Salt Lake City to Provo will go from an hour to 90 minutes.
The state's transportation needs, including mass transit and highway construction, will outpace current spending levels by $21.3 billion over the next 25 years. The result will be the type of congestion that hurts business. Simple deliveries will take much longer than they do now, resulting in higher costs and frustrations.
These were the findings of a report by a broad-based group known as the 2015 Transportation Alliance. In a press release earlier this week, Zions Bank CEO and president, Scott Anderson, said, "While the price is high, the cost of inaction is much greater."
And yet, Republican lawmakers decided on inaction.
They would argue that they took the prudent course by putting off consideration of a tax increase until the next regular legislative session. But every year that passes without addressing this problem costs Utahns in the long run.
The chamber and the alliance were asking for a vote to add onto the sales tax rates in Wasatch Front counties so that an even 1 cent goes to transportation. A separate effort is under way for a vote on a property-tax hike in Salt Lake County that would fund only a portion of these transit needs. The County Council ought to approve that vote.
But a much broader segment of the Wasatch Front needs a say in this matter.