The 2012 Utah Legislature gavels into session today.
We asked our political insiders and readers what they thought the top issues for lawmakers should be.
Not surprisingly, education is tops for both Republicans and Democrats. Fully 91% of Republicans and 97% of Democrats say education is either "moderately important" or "very important."
Economic development is also high on the list of priorities for both groups. 84% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats rated the issue as important.
Both groups seemingly have little appetite for addressing immigration policy or cutting taxes during the 2012 session.
26% of Republicans rated immigration policy as "important" while only 18% of Democrats feel the same.
Despite the state having a budget surplus for the first time in years, only 29% of Republicans and just 8% of Democrats think tax cuts should be high on the agenda for lawmakers.
Some anonymous comments:
"I don't believe economic development will proceed as well as in the past. UTA probably needs to be rechartered with citizen board and dedicated sales tax support and no scandals but dedication to cutting down automobile traffic and air pollution. Fat chance of any of the above, right?"
"I can think of no issue more deserving of the 'not at all important' designation than 'immigration Policy'."
"Reducing government (state) spending and eliminating wasteful and unnecessary programs is an ongoing challenge that I hope our elected officials continue to take very seriously."
"State legislators should focus on making Utah a better place to work and raise a family. They shouldn't get distracted by lame message bills, political posturing, or personal agendas. Focus on education, roads, economic development and normalizing liquor laws. The people of Utah have consistently said they are happy to pay more taxes if the money goes to essential governmental services like education. Please don't screw our kids over to score political points for your future political ambitions."
"Education should be the top priority. We are at a crossroads in education. Put resources in the classroom, increase teacher salaries, provide professional development, and provide mentoring and remediation for teachers, and provide reading and math coaches for struggling students. Without a commitment of funding, Utah's kids will not be prepared for the 21st century jobs."
"NOW is the time to fix a lot of things in Utah!"
"Watch for legislators who demanded more bonding and transportation earmarks last year to publicly insist we do more to pay down our debt this year."
"Education and economic development are the most important issues to be addressed this session."
"This session will be defined by how the new revenue is divided between Medicaid reimbursement, funding new growth in education, and paying down the debt."
"With Romney emerging as a Presidential candidate we might hope the one benefit will be for the legislature not to embarrass the homeland State. Well, okay, one can always wish."
"It is time to stop sending messages to Washington and start solving problems in Utah. Our quality of life and standard of living is being sacrificed for dogma, meaningless rankings, personal ambition and generous donors."
"Liquor reform only supersedes education as a priority because the legislature is drunk with power."
"Higher education funding needs some serious attention."
Respondents include -
Fred Adams, Stuart Adams, Jess Agraz, Scott Anderson, Patrice Arent, Bruce Baird, Tom Barberi, Heather Barney, Steve Barth, Jeff Bell, Tom Berggren, Mike Bertelsen, Ron Bigelow, Rob Bishop, Laura Black, Jim Bradley, Ralph Brown, Ken Bullock, Chris Bleak, Curt Bramble, Ralph Brown, Aaron Browning, Dave Buhler, Ken Bullock, Ric Cantrell, Maura Carabello, Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Kay Christensen, David Clark, Thomas Clay, Peter Corroon, Fred Cox, Lew Cramer, Gene Davis, Richard Davis, Brad Daw, Alan Dayton, Margaret Dayton, Mike Deaver, Brad, Dee, Joseph Demma, John Dougall, Randy Dryer, Donald Dunn, Becky Edwards, Scott Ericson, Jessica Fawson, Janice Fisher, Wendy Fisher, Lorie Fowlke, Ronald Fox, Jordan Garn, Luke Garrott, Dave Gessel, Natalie Gochnour, Robert Grow, Karen Hale, David Hansen, Neil Hansen, Joe Hatch, Jeff Hartley, Deidre Henderson, Lyle Hillyard, Randy Horiuchi, Bruce Hough, Scott Howell, Miriam Hyde, Allison Isom, Eric Jergensen, Mike Jerman, Roger Johnson, Michael Jolley, Gordon Jones, Leslie Jones, Kirk Jowers, Brian King, Scott Konopasek, Chris Kyler, Fred Lampropoulos, Douglas Larson, David Litvack, Larry Lunt, Matt Lyon, Ben McAdams, Gayle McKeachnie, JT Martin, Jason Mathis, Karen Mayne, Derek Miller, Rob Miller, Ethan Millard, Brett Millburn, Karen Morgan, Mike Mower, Holly Mullen, Wayne Niederhauser, Mike Noel, Ralph Okerlund, James Olsen, Val Oveson, Scott Parson, Kelly Patterson, Frank Pignanelli, Jason Powers, Joe Pyrah, Mike Reberg, Jill Remington Love, Lauren Richards, Holly Richardson, Robin Riggs, James Roberts, Luz Robles, Ross Romero, Don Savage, Bryan Schott, Jay Seegmiller, Patrick Shea, Randy Shumway, Soren Simonsen, Jeremy Slaughter, Carol Spackman-Moss, Howard Stephenson, Mike Styler, Todd Taylor, Juliette Tennert, Gary Thorup, Kevin Van Tassell, Royce Van Tassel, Michael Waddoups, Chuck Warren, Christine Watkins, LaVarr Webb, Todd Weiler, Alan West, Ted Wilson, Carl Wimmer, Mike Winder, Thomas Wright