Building on his theme that Utah is sick economically and he has the right medicine, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Wilson released "The Plan" on Wednesday - his solution to state government ills.
The 34-page document has 35 specific things Wilson says he'll do if elected governor Nov. 8, just two weeks away.Some of those ideals have been discussed before by Wilson. But before the Exchange Club, Wilson talked about his whole strategy for the first time.
He calls it "The Plan," and along the way points out what he says are the shortfalls of Gov. Norm Bangerter's administration.
"During the next two weeks you will hear Norm Bangerter tell you things are fairly good, and ask you to continue along the same road," Wilson said. "And you will hear (independent candidate) Merrill Cook tell you that if you pass the tax initiatives, the state will prosper."
Both beliefs are wrong, he said.
After hundreds of meetings with citizens over the past six months, this is how Wilson sees Utah's economy:
_Thirty-five thousand Utahnshave left the state during the Bangerter administration.
_The average wage in Utah has declined from 94 percent of the national average to 88 percent.
_The value of your home has declined.
_A confused and inept state Department of Community and Economic Development turns industry away.
_Lack of capital financing for Utah businesses has stopped sound business expansion.
_Utah's image has slipped from the early 1980s, when Salt Lake City was identified in the book "Mega-trends" as one of the 10 cities of great opportunity.
Wilson's recovery plan is based on "four simple principles":
"We must have the courage to invest in our human resources and infrastructure. We must all work together, the state, business, education and local government. We must get state government off the backs of business. We must all work harder."
He listed several areas where he contends Bangerter's administration fouled up. In one, a small business that qualified for a Utah Technology Finance Corp. loan waited 10 months for the money because of bureaucratic red tape. The business's owners finally gave up and never took the loan. In another case, a businessman told Wilson that he called the Department of Economic Development 22 times before someone returned his call. The man wanted help on expanding his business.
"If you ran your private business like that, you'd be out of business. And it's one reason the state is suffering," Wilson said.
Utah is 31st out of the 50 states in the availability of venture capital, Wilson said. According to the Corporation For Enterprise Development, Utah is 50th, last, in the competitiveness of existing business.
"California has $2,500 of venture capital per person. Utah has only $2.35 per person. We have only $4 million of venture capital. We should have $75 million," he said. Bangerter has talked about venture capital for four years but done nothing about it, he added.
Wilson would:> _Create a Utah Reinvestment Corp., with money from the state and private industry. The corporation would loan money to start businesses.
_Strengthen the Utah Technology Finance Corp. and make sure it operates efficiently.
_Encourage businessmen throughout Utah to start for-profit investment corporations.
_Encourage local governments to start non-profit investment corporations, modeled after the state's.
The new businesses created through these investment corporations will pay taxes, more than offsetting any start-up costs for the corporations. All small businesses, not just high-tech firms, will be eligible. Small operations can grow to international firms with the right help, Wilson believes.