Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says expanding access to preschool programs is his top legislative priority in 2014.
McAdams wants to expand a public/private “results based” partnership that allowed 600 additional students to attend preschool in the Granite School District last year.
“We know that access to high-quality preschool is a game changer,” said McAdams in his annual State of the County address.
That push will be led on the Hill by Republican Greg Hughes, who says the bill will be his top legislative priority in 2014.
“It’s a race to third grade. Statistics show that if we can’t get to them by then, they spend the rest of their time in school trying to catch up,” said Hughes. “This initiative will allow us to save resources we would have used on these kids for other things we are trying to accomplish.”
The educational initiative fit into a larger theme in McAdams’ address of providing opportunity for Salt Lake County residents.
McAdams also announced a program he’s calling “Better Futures” targeted at high-risk adults in order to reduce recidivism.
“We know that men who are newly released from prison have a mix of issues including drug or alcohol addiction, mental illness, chronic unemployment and homelessness. We will offer the opportunity of different options for ex-offenders, so they they can become contributing members of society.”
The mayor also noted that the demographic changes taking place across the U.S. are writ large in Salt Lake County. To that end, McAdams announced an initiative to partner with the Wasatch Front Regional Council to offer funding to local communities so they can look at different growth scenarios and plan accordingly.
“Taylorsville and Salt Lake County are supporting an effort to turn an outdated shopping center into a vibrant residential and commercial enterprise. We will work with Taylorsville to envision a project that incorporates principles of economically sustainable growth.”
After checking the boxes on economic growth and providing jobs, McAdams talked about finding ways to make government more efficient for residents, saying “government must reflect the world of 2014, not 2007.”
He hailed the effort to unify police communications across the Salt Lake County to better serve residents, and proposed launching a 3-1-1 telephone system to provide a single source of information for constituents.
“I will challenge my fellow mayors to join our effort to streamline the interactions our residents have with government, regardless of whose job it might be. We need to eliminate confusion and inconvenience for our residents and help simplify that aspect of their daily lives.”
Mayor McAdams discusses his proposal to have all students in Salt Lake County reading at grade level by the 3rd grade:
Rep. Greg Hughes talks about why he is spearheading the Salt Lake County educational initiative at the legislature: