Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Time to speculate on elections, immigration, etc.
Another intra-Republican fight pits transportation funding against higher education and social services. Does the state have enough funding for both?
Pignanelli: As legislative Republicans frequently reminded me during my legislative experience — there is never enough money for all worthy needs. The public wrestling match between the governor and legislative leadership over dedicated transportation funds is intriguing — especially since most Utahns are ambivalent about the issue. No lawmaker is in jeopardy for his/her vote in the override session. This controversy is eternal and will return again in future sessions — there may never be a long term answer.
Webb: Instead of looking at transportation vs. education, we need to look at our values, our vision for the future, and what we want our communities and education systems to be like 20 years from now. If we look at the big picture, we will find we greatly value both education and transportation, and we must adequately fund both to ensure long-term economic vibrancy. Thankfully, a great deal of excellent work has been done in both areas.
On the education side, Prosperity 2020 lays out a visionary, but realistic, plan for education excellence. On the transportation side, local government leaders through the Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments and Envision Utah, are rolling out Wasatch Choice for 2040, a bottom-up, grassroots vision leading to healthy communities connected via a great transportation system with clean air, walking trails, accessible public transit and less highway congestion.
Can both visions be fulfilled? They can if both sides get together, collaborate and work out the funding strategies. We're Utahns. We're problem-solvers. We can have great education and great transportation.
Note: Notwithstanding our comments in a recent column, Rep. Patrice Arent is not considering a run for Attorney General. We apologize for the inaccurate speculation.
Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: email@example.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.