PROVO The Provo Municipal Airport is getting closer to chucking its binoculars and chalkboard the current method for airport surveillance and getting a radar.
Talk over the much-needed radar resurfaced at Saturday morning's weekly Eggs and Issues meeting, sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare and the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce.
After years of lobbying, the Federal Aviation Administration entered into a deal with city leaders and the Utah Senate to split funding for the $12 million radar, and the state is on its way to netting the funds.
"I am pleased to tell you that ... Provo city, other cities, the county and MAG are working very hard," Mayor Lewis Billings of Provo said. "I think we are very close to be able to say we have three-quarters of a million."
Rep. Rebecca Lockhart, R-Provo, said she was confident the Legislature would meet the cities' fundraising efforts, saying, "This is an issue for the Wasatch Front; it's not just a Provo issue."
At the meeting for the transportation committee Lockhart said the report on the radar "was very, very well received" because some committee members' families had been "significantly affected by accidents at the Provo area airport."
Airplanes flying out of Provo are undetectable by radar at the Salt Lake City International Airport because of the bowl-shaped valley until the planes hit about 8,500 feet.
"We need to get this (bill to fund the radar) through the House and Senate," said Rep. Steve Sandstrom, R-Orem. "It is not a matter of if, but a matter of when."
Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble, R-Orem, said, "Feb. 18 is the magic date" when lawmakers will receive the budget and know whether there is funding for the radar.
Legislators also discussed the bill that passed Friday on health-system reform, an issue that hits close to home for many Utahns.
"We're having to pass the health-system reform because so many other governments have passed health-system reform," said Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem. "What we're doing is trying to clean up the mess. Find a way to put consumers, individuals and families in charge of their own."
The plan is that consumer-driven health care will drive prices down, while driving quality up. Daw said it is important to "act quickly" because the Legislature will ask for permission from the federal government to make changes, and when President Bush leaves office "permission may not be forthcoming."
Both Daw and Lockhart mentioned the effect of the cooling economy on the state's budget.
"For the last few years we've had historic surpluses, and we have been able to do great things," Lockhart said. "I don't want to set anybody up for disappointment, but it's not going to be Christmas this year like it has been in the past."
At the most well-attended Eggs and Issues Breakfast over the past three years, business leaders and citizens heard legislators report on a slew of bills and issues. Congressman Chris Cannon and Jason Chaffetz, who is running for Cannon's place in Congress, were in attendance.The breakfast is held every Saturday morning of the legislative session at 7:30 at the Northwest Plaza of the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
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