Medicaid Expansion and Transportation Funding are Pressing Issues for Utah Lawmakers

Speaker Becky Lockhart says transportation issues and Medicaid expansion will be two of the hottest issues facing lawmakers over the next few years.

Lockhart, speaking at the annual Utah Taxpayers Association Conference says Medicaid expansion will have the attention of lawmakers, especially since Gov. Gary Herbert is hoping for a special session this summer on the issue.

“What you have to do is go into a decision like this with eyes wide open,” says Lockhart. “This is not a simple decision to make. That will be a great discussion.”

Herbert is negotiating with the federal government about his “Healthy Utah” plan, which would use federal waivers to cover Utahns who fall into the so-called “donut hole” instead of taking full federal expansion of Medicaid. Lockhart opposed taking any federal money to cover poor Utahns, instead pushing for state dollars to make up the gap.

Lockhart also said the gas tax, which goes to fund transportation needs, will move front and center as Utah’s population continues to grow. She said she favors letting individual municipalities take the lead instead of the state, which would require a complete re-working of how the gas tax is implemented.

“Right now, local entities get 30% of the gas tax, but lawmakers take the political heat for voting to raise the tax. That’s why I want a local option, which would give them the whole thing, but they would remain accountable. We have to come to terms with how we do that.”