This is the 12th in a series of questions posed to the candidates in the State Senate District 23 race. To see the previous questions in this series, please go to http://www.woodscrosscitizen.com/search/label/Answers.
12) What do you see as the biggest issue facing our state? What would you, as a state senator, do about it?
Democrat - Richard Watson:
Long-term planning. What does long-term planning mean? It means too many projects have come about because of a reaction to a problem. It is good to see the business community taking economic development seriously as they look to bring more businesses into Utah. But we need our lawmakers to plan better in areas of transportation, public education and affordable health care if we want Utah to be economically stable. Transportation is a good example of how Utah government has reacted to a problem instead of planning for future growth.
Long-term planning for public education is also essential for the future of our state. As stated [in a previous answer], more funding for public schools is crucial for Utah to have the best schools in the nation.
Republican - Dan Liljenquist:
There are several issues that we are facing as a State that I am concerned about. Perhaps the biggest issue we are facing is how to address issues, from education to transportation to economic development, holistically and objectively, without the political rancor that so often burdens the political process. I believe in the concept of “rational government” – if elected I will do my best to be objective and rational in making decisions.
All of the issues we are facing are interrelated and extremely complex. Here are the issues I am most concerned about:
Utah’s record setting economy is coming down to earth. We must be diligent in our economic development efforts to ensure our ongoing prosperity as a State. We need to attract more, higher-paying jobs by leveraging our well-educated workforce, continuing to develop our transportation infrastructure, and fostering a business friendly environment through the use of appropriate economic incentives. Real economic growth results in more, higher-paying jobs and less pressure on local counties to raise revenue by increasing our property taxes.
Health insurance costs are spiraling out of control as our population ages, treatment options increase, and more people drop from insurance pools, counting on the government to take care of their medical needs. All of these issues threaten to collapse our medical care system. We must be committed to a market driven solution to healthcare, allowing insurance companies more flexibility to offer a wider range of health insurance options to meet the needs and budgets of each Utah family. The alternative is government administered healthcare which will drive up taxes, reduce funds available for education and other necessities, and limit treatment options for everyone.
Education is the key driver of our prosperity in Utah. We must continue our commitment to reduce class sizes and providing competitive wages for our teachers. We must ensure that the public education funding mechanisms are sufficient to handle the anticipated enrollment growth in our schools. Our educational system must become more competitive, with greater parental involvement in our schools. Parents must have a stronger voice in the educational decisions involving their children, strengthening the relationship between parents and educators. We must all work together to prepare our children to excel in hyper-competitive, global labor markets where knowledge and intelligence are vital for success.
Population growth in North Davis County will continue to put pressure on our transportation infrastructure in South Davis County, threatening our quality of life by driving up traffic congestion and impacting air quality. We must be committed to the expansion of I-15, the build-out of Legacy Highway, and the extension of Front Runner. We also need to explore other avenues to alleviate traffic congestion as needed, including light rail and expanded bus service options. We must work to ensure that South Davis County residents have transportation options that will allow us to fully participate in the economic, educational and cultural opportunities along the Wasatch front, now and in the future.
Our Legislature must hold itself to the highest standards of integrity as it fulfills the trust and exercises the authority placed in it by the people. We must ensure that all potential conflicts of interest are disclosed publicly and that all legislative business is conducted openly and at arms length. All campaign donations should only be used for legitimate campaign purposes. We must make sure that the people of Utah have confidence in the integrity of our Citizen Legislature.
The Federal Government must act to secure our borders and stop the flow of illegal immigration – this is the foundational action required for all meaningful immigration enforcement and reform. The Federal Government should also expand the flow of legal immigration to ensure that America continues to be a beacon for hard-working, intelligent, and law-abiding individuals is search of a better life. We should enforce our existing State laws, especially our identity theft laws, while treating everyone with respect and compassion.