I found the first two-thirds of the opinion piece by Sen. Stuart Reid from Ogden interesting and thoughtful, and I agreed with it down to the point where he begins talking about the fiscal discipline of the Legislature being at risk. Instead of fiscal discipline being at risk, what will change if Senator Reid's predictions about the future makeup of the Legislature actually occur are things like:
1. The Legislature will accept $500 million of Utahns’ federal tax dollars to support the state’s Medicaid program rather than turning it away and using our limited state funds for that.
2. The Legislature will have more compassion for the poor, for single mothers and for children and adults with disabilities.
3. The Legislature will do more to protect the citizens of this state from overly aggressive and dubious business practices.
4. The Legislature will require that truckloads of gravel, dirt, yard waste and trash be covered, and that loads of tools be tied down to protect the driving public.
5. The Legislature will allow cities and counties to exercise local control as the local governments perceive is best for their community.
6. The Legislature will allow local governments to collect all kinds of impact fees for new development so that existing residents do not have to subsidize developers through their local taxes.
7. The Legislature will fund education at levels more in line with the actual needs.
8. The Legislature will update the motor fuel tax to an indexed system so that revenues increase in accordance with the price of the fuels.
9. The Legislature will enact more bills with teeth in them to address the serious, harmful, expensive and embarrassing air quality issues that we experience.
10. The Legislature will begin responding to the will of the majority rather than to a minority who are interested only in ideology, not in getting things accomplished.
And fiscal disciple will still be maintained.
The Legislature will not become much more liberal as suggested, but will become more dedicated to "moderation in all things" and to civility in seeking common ground to serve the citizens of the state. Special interests will have less sway with the Legislature due to the movement of legislative interests to serve the majority and a means to nomination apart from appeasing the special interests in the political conventions.
"Social values" will continue to be safeguarded and "public virtues" will continue to be protected. Utah is overall a conservative state much in line with the public policy principles of Republican stalwarts like Gov. Mitt Romney, Gov. Michael Leavitt and Gov. Jon Huntsman. I am not afraid to put the Legislature in the hands of folks like them.
I believe we can all be assured that Utah will be culturally enhanced as we gently move to a more reasonable and sensitive position of policymaking in the Legislature.
Ron Phillips has served for two terms as a Republican state delegate and is a private consultant from Heber City.