By Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville
Often when the annual legislative session starts, the discussion is about the list of things people want to “fix” or “change.” There are nearly 1,000 bills filed each year with various fixes to state policy. Sometimes in our zeal to fix things, we reinvent the proverbial wheel. I think it is important that we consider all the things Utah is doing right before making changes.
Utah has racked up accolade after accolade for our business-friendly economy and the family friendly environment. Forbes Magazine has ranked Utah the “Best State for Business and Careers” three years in a row and Utah has held the No. 1 ranking for volunteerism for the past seven years. The list of our kudos is so long that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development actually keeps an online list at business.utah.gov/whyutah/accolades/. The awards and accolades aren’t just hollow phrases or meaningless plaques. They are recognition of the things we are getting right in terms of economic recovery, sound budgeting practices, and in fostering a community where people want to live and give back.
Utah’s unemployment rate is 5.2 percent, which is significantly lower than the national unemployment rate of 7.8 percent and is lower than in all but one of our surrounding states. Utah’s economy has returned to growth mode at 2.9 percent. We still have nearly $250 million in our Rainy Day Funds and each session, no matter how difficult the task, our budget balances to the penny. We have set state policy and created infrastructure to turn university research into viable business opportunities through USTAR and we offer a wide variety of post-performance economic development incentives for companies that locate in Utah or that expand their Utah operations.
As you can see, despite several challenging years on the national economic scene, Utah is doing well and has a lot to offer families and businesses alike. It is important as we consider 45 days of bills and budget decisions that we remember the things that Utah is doing well and continue to support those programs or patterns of behavior that have returned such positive results. We should reserve our fixes for under-performing areas of policy.
Rep. Wilson is writing a series of articles during the annual legislative session about the happenings on Capitol Hill.