Loser: Federal regulators are accusing the state of Illinois of securities fraud, saying the state misled investors about the condition of its public pension system during the years 2005-2009. The system became seriously out of whack when the recession ruined market projections, among other things. Utah, luckily, has passed reforms designed to keep its pension from suffering long-term for the losses it incurred. However, a recent audit of the system by Utah State Auditor John Dougall found the state is running a risk by projecting a 7.5 percent annual market return on investments. Utah is a long way from Illinois, but it should do all it can to avoid getting any closer.
Winner: Let's hear it for competition. A study by Mike Martineau of the University of Utah found that public schools in Utah that are located within 10 miles of one of more charter schools saw a boost in their test scores during a period between 2005 and 2011. Although students are free to attend the charter school of their choice, a nearby charter school increases the competitive pressures on a public school to retain students. School districts with 5 percent of their students in charter schools saw a 1.2 percent increase in math proficiency compared with districts with no charter schools. The gain in science proficiency was 2 percent for districts with at least 6 percent in charters, and that gain was measured within two years of the charter school opening. If a little competition is good, imagine what a lot of competition would do.
Winner: Thanks to the quick work of Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Rich Haycock, a suicidal woman on I-70 near Richfield is still alive. The woman led police on a chase that reached speeds of 100 mph before she was forced to stop. Haycock noticed she had placed a gun to her own chin as he approached the car. Using his training as a negotiator, he was able to talk the woman out of killing herself. It took about four hours, however, as he built her trust. After the ordeal, the woman was booked on outstanding warrants from Kansas, as well as for evading police and having a loaded gun in her car. But she is alive and has a chance to turn things around. "People are important," Haycock said.