The decisions made during the 2010 Utah State Legislative session will not only impact citizens this year, but for years to come. The budget, taxes, sex education, states’ rights, gun control, and many other issues will take over the headlines as legislators get to work. All eyes will be on Utah’s elected officials as the session kicks off, including the eyes of college students across the state. The following is a sample of predictions, expectations, and wishes from the perspective of several students:
“First, I expect them to tackle the budget shortfall for obvious reasons. It will be interesting to see if former Speaker Curtis will have as much pull this year as he did last year representing the tobacco industry. While the governor has said that he doesn't want to add any taxes, it seems highly unlikely. I look at the tobacco tax and the reinstatement of the food tax as the first two and most talked about options. Second, I think that they will feel pressure from the new Salt Lake City ordinance dealing with fair housing and employment for the LGBT community.”
“I expect that they will most likely be focused on the economics of Utah. Especially as this year and next year will be the hardest for government revenue as they are using revenue brought in during the hardest hit recession months. I see a huge response from the legislature on ethics reform. Mainly to combat the horrible proposed ethics initiative that is trying to make it on the ballots of 2010 and I see them catering more to grassroots organizations as elections are coming up in 2010 also.”
“Stream Access is definitely going to be an issue. Representative Fowlke has been working on it all of interim and about has it done. Sex education could be an issue; there has been a lot of talk about it the past few months. I would really like to see a comprehensive sex ed program instituted. I think it's important to give middle and high school students the option to learn about it from someone other than their parents.”
“I would like to see the legislature obviously get control of the budget. Beyond raising taxes, I think that there needs to be cuts made in the state's spending. Exactly where I do not know, but it has to be done. I would also like to see them introduce legislation and take steps to strengthen the state’s ability to function without the heavy hand of the federal government. I am not talking about making outrageous claims such as Texas Governor Perry has, but developing sound policies in critical areas.”
Utah has the youngest population of any state in the union and a great number of college students. Young people are aware of the happenings on Utah’s Capitol Hill and recognize the consequences of the legislature’s actions. Higher education must be a priority along with providing aid to small businesses. Education and jobs will keep Utah on the cutting edge and ahead of the competition. Our future depends on it.
Drew Conrad is a marketing major at the University of Utah, where he also serves as the Chairman of the U College Republicans. Drew has a diverse P.R. background working with non-profit organizations, businesses, and campaigns. He has lived in Colorado, Paraguay, Washington, D.C. and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.