On most issues, Utah voters say state & local governments should take lead

Utah Capitol 22

Utahns are fairly knowledgeable about what level of government provides which services taxpayers fund, a new UtahPolicy.com/Y2 Analytics survey shows.

And, generally speaking, Utah Republicans don’t want the federal government providing many services, while Democrats don’t have a problem with that, while political independents stand somewhere in between.

In this survey, Y2 asked respondents two questions regarding levels of government and the services they provide. The first question asked which government level currently plays the biggest role in a variety of issues. The second question asked which level SHOULD play the biggest role on the same issues.  



Here’s a quick analysis:

— The federal government doesn’t have a large role in setting K-12 education standards, but 36 percent of Utahns say it does, and 30 percent say the federal government should (even if it doesn’t).

In fact, the state and local school districts have the most to do with setting those student standards, and Utahns realize that. Forty-nine percent say state government should play the largest role in education standards.

— Protecting the environment is a different story. There Congress and the president do have a lot to say about the environment, and 74 percent of Utahns agree they do have the main role in that area, with 61 percent saying they should.

— Building and maintaining bridges and roads is no longer greatly funded by Congress — as it once was.

Sixty-five percent say the state plays the biggest role in such work, with 62 percent saying they should be doing it. Again, Utahns get that basically right.

— While the 2nd Amendment stands at the national level, fighting crime is local government’s job, Utahns say. Sixty-eight percent say the local police and prosecutors do handle crime, and 64 percent say they should — it’s not the main job of the federal nor state governments.

— Likewise, parks and recreation are areas the state and local governments do the best job, and respondents agree they should have those duties.

— Health care for the poor and low-income is trickier. Utahns realize that both the federal government and the state have major responsibilities here. Thirty-eight percent say it is mostly the federal government’s role; 45 percent say it is a state responsibility; and 17 percent say it is a local role.

No doubt the four-year battle in the Utah Legislature over whether to fully adopt Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion plays a part in Utahns correctly believing that both Congress and the Legislature should pay for the poor’s health care coverage.

And, of course, Prop 3, Medicaid expansion, that passed in the 2918 vote by citizens is still an issue before lawmakers. Will they fully fund it in the 2020 session? That remains to be seen.

— Finally, which level of government is responsible for creating affordable housing is problematic, Utah voters say.

The different three levels of government have a role, the poll’s respondents say — with 22 percent saying the federal government does the main job now, 54 percent saying it is the state, and 24 percent saying local governments are carrying the load.

Who should be doing affordable housing? 17 percent say the feds, 54 percent say the state, and 29 percent say local governments.

Overall, Utah voters get it about right in who is carrying the load on these issues today, and who should be handling these problems in the future.