Genius Panelists: Use Mandate for Education, Heath Care

blue 01This week’s question: Gov. Gary Herbert won a strong mandate for what is expected to be his final term in office. What should be a few of his top priorities that would make a big difference in Utah?

Ted Wilson, mountaineer, executive director of UCAIR, former Salt Lake City mayor and past Democratic candidate for governor and the U.S. Senate. The Governor proves he is Middle-Utah’s choice. His mandate on the state level is huge. It’s time for him to press the legislature for more inclusive health care, assuming Obamacare survives. If it is removed or changed, he can be the moderate voice coming from a majority of GOP governors around the country. One thing Herbert is, separate from political goals, is an outstanding person. He seeks conciliation and balance. As such he can do much to heal the bitter wounds from Clinton-Trump, the worst campaign any of us can remember. Trump’s early hit will come on the economy. The economy hates big changes, so it’s inevitable. Herbert’s strong record on jobs can make Utah a successful outlier.

Boyd Matheson, president, Sutherland Institute, and former chief of staff to Sen. Mike Lee. It is always wise to be wary of big victories. Such wins can lead to a false sense of security, complacency, or even a risk-averse attitude toward both addressing difficult issues and pursuing new opportunities. Governor Herbert and his team ran a great race and won decisively. The test, as always, will be what do they do with that win and how they parlay it into something significant.

There is plenty to cheer about in Utah – we are winning in many ways. Two recent victories – for being the best place to do business and the best place for volunteer service – show that Utah’s free market economy and voluntary civil society are truly the key to our success.

The governor’s agenda should be centered on a simple motto: “Utah – The Best Is About to Get Better.”

Mandates in Utah are rarely about a person, a party or preserving the status quo. Said simply, our best must get better. A few places to pursue “better” include the following: 

  • Give parents a “flex spending option” for their child’s education tax dollars.
  • Pursue welfare reforms that respect the dignity of people in poverty by enshrining earned success.
  • Continue to fight for equality, fairness and inclusiveness by advocating for laws that protect religious identity and sexual identity equally.
  • Reform professional licensing programs to level the playing field for entrepreneurs and service professionals.
  • Work to proactively champion the restoration of balanced, functional federalism alongside Utah’s federal delegation – including efforts like the Re-empowerment of the States Amendment and the transfer of public lands to the state.

Governor Herbert and his team are poised to lead and have an unprecedented opportunity to elevate the state while inviting the rest of the nation to come and see why we are winning and thriving. The mandate manifest in such a big victory at the ballot box is not about our current list of “bests” but is about boldly leading toward a better, brighter future for every Utahn.

Mark Bouchard, senior managing director, Southwest Region, CBRE, Inc. Here are some thoughts:

  • Of course continue his leadership as an Ambassador for Public & Higher Education.
  • Take a leadership role as contention surrounding healthcare surfaces at the national level. The governor has much to add in this area.
  • Help reinvigorate the UTAH GOP around a common vision and direction.

Pat Jones, CEO, Women’s Leadership Institute, and former state senator. Support significant new education funding with changed governance and school-level input as to where the money goes.

Ralph Becker, former state senator and Salt Lake City mayor. Governor Herbert is a decent guy, but his aversion to political risk limits his use of the office to help Utah move forward on many issues. I’d want him to use his power to convene around many issues to galvanize consensus on tough issues and at times make some tough calls that may engender opposition in some people, but will move Utah forward and serve as a model for good decision making and a brighter future for all.