Education, Workforce and Healthcare

The 2015 Public Policy Guide will be released prior to the upcoming legislative session. The policy team is releasing a series of weekly broad based policy topics that will be featured in the new guide.

The 2015 Public Policy Guide strives to obtain community prosperity through investment and will address Utah’s concerns about education, workforce and health care.

It is clear that educational achievement has direct correlation to economic progress. Utah ‘s pro business climate must be supported with a well-educated and healthy workforce. Utah is the only state in the nation with a median age under 30 and the highest percentage of its population under the age of 18. Utah must act to prepare the largest population of young people in the country to be among the most educated workforce in the nation. We must do more to keep pace with the growth of K-12 and higher education. Higher education compensation must be competitive in order to attract high quality instructors and researchers.

In order for Utah to continue to compete in a global economic arena, the state must make a plan with innovative strategies, increased accountability and targeted investments towards education. A business is only as effective as it’s workforce. A well-educated workforce is essential to fuel our continually growing economy.

A healthy workforce is also necessary to ensure a productive business environment. Utah is 3rd in employer-sponsored coverage (ESI) and had the highest overall level of nonelderly ESI dependent coverage at 44.2% in 2010 and 2011. While Utah would not have chosen the difficult dilemma faced by the nation, action on the issue of the expansion of Medicaid coverage must be taken to respond to a significant flaw in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Utahns are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes in order to fund insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion occurring in other states. As one of the best managed, most fiscally prudent and business friendly states in the nation, Utah should embrace a solution that is flexible and embraces Utah’s self-determination attitude. Our community already benefits from a state health system that is the envy of the nation with the lowest health care spending per capita at $5,031. The innovations, efficiencies and talented workforce in Utah’s health care industry drive down costs and deliver better outcomes for our state.

We should pursue all available federal dollars to develop a flexible solution that strengthens a competitive, private insurance market, promotes individual accountability by those receiving assistance and prevents the state from being responsible for providing additional ongoing benefits if the federal government becomes unable or unwilling to support its promises. We believe these aims can be achieved through the innovative approach Governor Gary Herbert is proposing in Healthy Utah. Sound economic and moral principles drive good public policy.

The Governor’s 2015 proposed budget address the concerns of ensuring a prosperous economy through increased education funding and the Healthy Utah Medicaid expansion plan.  Protecting our present and future workforce will ensure future prosperity for Utah families. Additional information concerning the Salt Lake Chamber’s policy priorities for education health and workforce, as well as a number of other important topics will be will be available in the upcoming week with the release of the 2015 Public Policy Guide onJanuary 22.