If Democratic lieutenant governor hopeful Jim Davis wants voter support in Orem, he'd better be ready to do something about limiting air pollution created by the Geneva Steel plant.
That was the message Davis received this week during an informal discussion with a handful of Orem residents at the City Center. Though he said he has no immediate solutions to residents' concerns, he pledged that he and gubernatorial hopeful Ted Wilson would bring the steel plant in line with Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.Davis also took time to lambaste the performance of Gov. Norm Bangerter and said it's time to turn Utah back to Utahns.
If elected, he and Wilson would not duplicate Bangerter's approach to attracting jobs without any regard of the cost or threat to Utah's population, Davis said. The state should not be so quick to entice industries that other states don't want, such as the explosives plant to be built in southern Utah.
Not only have some of the jobs created during the Bangerter administration not been in the state's best interest, but the number of new jobs pales in comparison with accomplishments of the Scott Matheson administration, Davis said. While only 6,400 new jobs were created last year, more than 30,000 were created during Matheson's last year in office.
During Wilson's 10 years as Salt Lake City's mayor, 40,000 new jobs were created and property values rose three times during the city's largest period of growth, he said.
Davis said Utah salaries have dropped during Bangerter's tenure in comparison to average salaries across the nation. Meanwhile, the state was saddled with the largest tax increase in its history - an increase that generated funds the governor later decided to rebate.
"That's why you hear the term yo-yo economics in this campaign," he said.
Because of Bangerter's economic blunders, Utah has been left out of the nation's longest peacetime economic recovery, Davis said. One of the reasons, he said, was that Utah cities were deprived of $114 million as a result of cuts in sales tax revenues distributed to cities, diversion of highway funds and state holding of interest generated from sales tax revenues.
Davis said the Wilson administration would put economic development back into the hands of the people, and do the same with education.
"Education and economic development aren't two separate issues. They're the same issue."
He said the mission of the Wilson administration is to provide Utahns with the best jobs and best educational system in the country. That will be accomplished by putting resources where they're needed, something the Bangerter administration didn't do, Davis said.
"We need to translate ideas into action," he said. "We stand for Utah."
Davis reiterated his and Wilson's opposition to tax limitation measures. The way to resolve taxation problems "is not with a meat ax, but with a scalpel."
Nevertheless, should tax limitation pass and Wilson be elected, Davis said, the new governor will be ready to respond to the people's will and move to expand the economy in response.
"Our major emphasis, whether the tax initiatives pass or not, is creating a volume in Utah's economy to cover what we need to," Davis said. Cuts in governmental services, if they have to be made, will be balanced and fair.