Webb Wrap: Owens can’t be just a conservative ideologue . . . Protect education funding . . . Utah’s brand of conservatism

Utah’s 4th Congressional District really is a swingy district. It appears that Burgess Owens will win back the district for Republicans.

I wrongly predicted that Ben McAdams would win re-election. I didn’t think the 4th District would elect a hardcore conservative culture warrior. But thanks to Trump turning out the Republican base and a solid turnout in Utah County, and without popular ballot proposals to draw out Democrats, Burgess appears headed for victory.

I think the immense amount of negative advertising on both sides of the race was essentially a draw.

Voters do like their members of Congress to go back and fight for their values, but Owens will need to show he’s more than a conservative ideologue. He’ll need to have a great constituent affairs operation. He’ll need to touch base regularly with local officials. He’ll need to hold town halls across the district and come to understand Utah issues. It’s easy to be a culture warrior and appear on Fox News to blast Democrats and vow to protect conservative values. But that will wear thin unless Owens really serves the 4th District.

Income tax flexibility. GOP legislative leaders really wanted Amendment G to pass, and they got their wish. But the win is not a mandate to slow the increase in education funding. Voters approved the constitutional amendment providing flexibility in the use of income taxes beyond education 54-46 percent. That’s a solid win, but it was narrower than the vote in favor of all the other amendments. Lawmakers will need to be very careful in moving tax revenue away from education. They promised the amendment will solidify education funding, protecting it from ebbs and flows of tax revenue, and voters took them at their word. We need to increase education funding to produce exceptional education performance.

Reader Response. Rep. Steve Handy:  You invited readers to comment about Utah’s brand of conservatism. I actually had two very interesting conversations last Thursday that I believe illustrates that we do have a different brand in Utah and are being recognized for our collaborative efforts.

I had a call from Avery Gilbert of Energy Strategies in New York City. She has been commissioned by PEW Research to gather information about what was happening in Utah with regards to the transition to more of a renewable energy portfolio. She contacted me because my name is out there a little bit because of my 2019 bill, HB 411 Community Renewable Energy Amendments, that has garnered national attention as a model of collaboration between a regulated utility and communities desiring more renewable energy.

Avery was aware of and impressed by The Utah Roadmap and wanted to know how that had come about and whether there were any policy actions that would come out of it. Additionally, she was aware of the Utah Air Quality and Climate Compact and noticed that the signatories weren’t just politicians but instead industry, civic and faith-based leaders. She said that she and PEW were very interested in how that had come about in a RED state like Utah. It was fun to tell her about the Utah Immigration Compact…she came away impressed and I think her recommendation will be for PEW to put some resources into Utah.

The second call was from Jennifer Jura, the government relations director for Edison Electric, the trade association for American electricity utilities. I have known Jennifer a little and she started out the conversation about the AQ and Climate Compact, had noticed that I was one of the signers and wanted to reach out to me for background. She hadn’t heard of The Utah Roadmap but I’ve sent her a link and gave her the background. She was impressed and remarked again how unusual she thought that collaboration was from a RED state like Utah.

So, there are two examples that occurred on the same day and are good illustrations of the fact that others are paying attention to Utah’s collaboratove and non-partisan approach to energy and climate issues. By the way, both of them were impressed by the Legislature’s Bi-Partisan Clean Air Caucus. So there you go.

Curtis McCarthy, Bluffdale, responding to Trump followers sticking with him: Who is drinking the kool-aid? Just like the 900+ followers of Jim Jones who drank the cyanide laced Kool Aid in Guyana in 1978 it seems like the dedicated cult followers of President Donald Trump fail to see his many foibles. I was once a strong Republican but seeing the moral failure of our leaders to call out Trump over his nasty and lying comments it changed my thoughts. I ask people why they would vote for a con man, crook, liar, cheat, etc and they say they would rather vote for a crook than a Democrat. How can you address that?
Of course there were improprieties in the election. Who is to say if the Republicans or Democrats cast the most illegal votes? I would think they are about even in their shenanigans, thank goodness it is pretty rare.
The United States dodged a bullet by not re-electing Trump. Trump needs the free time to answer all of the court cases against him for rape accusations, libel comments, fraud, tax deliquency. He has given enough service to our country. Time to do his own house cleaning.
Dorothy Thacker, Riverton, on Utah’s brand of conservatism: I’ve lived in Utah for the past 47 years, so I’m not sure what other states are like. I do hope we are unique in trying to be civil and understanding while holding to principles of self-reliance, liberty and freedom. As we’ve gone through this past election, I’ve made an effort to teach my teenage grandchildren about the negative results of socialism because I don’t know what they are taught in school. I started with a comment by Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of someone else’s money.” We haven’t done a good job of educating our children as a country or conservative party. Churchill also said, “If you’re not a Democrat by the time you’re 18 you haven’t got a heart. But if you’re not a Republican by the time you’re 40 you haven’t got a brain.”

I love my neighbors and will do everything I can for them if they’re in need, but sometimes I don’t relate to their philosophies.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but I am concerned for our country. I’m concerned about how socialist it is becoming and even more so with what the results of this election my bring. However, I still try to love my neighbor.

Parting Shot. Is it realistic for Utah to aspire to be the nation’s No. 1 education state? That absolutely should be our ambition. We pride ourselves in having the country’s best economy. We say our children are our most precious resource. We are a family-oriented state. Our children are smart. Our parents are committed. We have fine teachers and administrators. Why shouldn’t we provide the best education in the nation?  What is stopping us? No. 1 ought to be our aspiration, but it will take larger investments to make it happen.

If you have a comment, an item you think should be publicized, or just want to tell me I’m an idiot, shoot me a message at [email protected]