Genius Panelists Would Focus on Federalism, Education Reform

blue 01This week’s question: If you were King (or Queen) of Utah, what important policy would you enact?

Steve Handy, state representative and former Layton City Council member. If I were “King for a Day” or until I was deposed, what important policy would I enact?

Firstly, I would convene a conclave of the 49 other kings and queens and institute a move toward constitutional federalism in order to assert states’ rights and curb the role, power and influence of the federal government.

It must be “all for one and one for all” or we all fall together.

This royal consortium must realize that there is real power in unity and that the biggest threat to liberty and prosperity is not an attack by a foreign power, although terrorists are alive and active, but the rising tide of government power at home.

Author Mark Levin in his book The Liberty Amendments, notes: “What was to be a relatively innocuous federal government, operating from a defined enumeration of specific grants of power, has become an ever-present and unaccountable force. It is the nation’s largest creditor, property owner, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, tenant, insurer, health-care provider, and pension guarantor.”

In Federalist 45 James Madison insisted, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State government are numerous and indefinite.”

“Off with their heads,” I say.

Bob Bernick, longtime journalist and Utah Policy Daily contributing editor. A far-reaching reform that would, I believe, impact state elections for the better for years to come:

  1. An independent commission to recommend to Legislature redistricting boundaries every 10 years, with geographic continuity paramount, incumbent home base/partisan voting patterns blind.
  2. Campaign donation limits for individuals, PACs and businesses.
  3. Recall elections for statewide offices and legislators — set at a fairly high bar to keep away from frivolous recalls.
  4. Set part-time legislator pay at one-half of the average family income, readjusted every two years automatically.
  5. Lower referendum and petition initiative signature gathering requirements so more of such citizen/voter actions can take place.
  6. Adopt online voting in all elections, along with same-day voter registration/provisional ballots. Give a small personal income tax refund/credit if you vote ($25 to $50 per voter).
  7. Term limits for governor, AG, state auditor and treasurer, and state House and Senate members at 12 years.

The chance that a Republican-controlled state executive and Legislature will do any or all of these things:  About zero.

Nolan Karras, former state House speaker, former gubernatorial candidate, and education reformer.  I would provide early learning to all at-risk children

Boyd Matheson, president, Sutherland Institute. Beyond making federalism all the rage – and the center of water-cooler and party conversation across the nation – as King of Utah I would alter our approach to poverty. My Kingship would obviously include influence over federal laws and regulations that impact Utah’s poverty policies.

I would consolidate every state poverty program – including health care, unemployment, education and general welfare programs – into one “poverty to prosperity” program. Its organizing principle would be to make poverty temporary instead of just tolerable by encouraging and rewarding the “success sequence”: finishing school/developing new skills, finding a job, and getting married and having children within marriage, along with acquiring the disciplines, skills, tools, life structures and networks for lifelong learning and self-reliance.

We must replace programs that treat people in poverty like liabilities to be managed with a program that treats them like unique individuals – human assets, with unlimited potential.

Currently we offer financial or material benefits based on poverty status. In other words, our present approach makes people’s ability to improve their quality of life through anti-poverty programs – including feeding their families, accessing health care, and gaining an education – dependent upon remaining in poverty! This “prosperity cliff” puts them into inhumane situations where the most reasonable, and even responsible, option for them and their family is to remain in poverty.

Anti-poverty programs must move people along the paths that are proven to lead to prosperity. It is also vital to treat them with the dignity and respect that will allow them to say in hindsight that they gained their self-reliance from their own successful life decisions and hard work, not just through government handouts. Any king of Utah should create a state that lasts by putting “poverty to prosperity” first.

Pat Jones, former state senator, polling firm owner, and director of the Women’s Leadership Institute. I would enact the end of the monarchy.

Dan Liljenquist, former state senator and former U.S. Senate candidate. If I were the king of Utah, I would declare Utah’s independence from overreaching federal regulations and the tax schemes that are used to fund them.  Over the years, we have witnessed the slow degradation of state sovereignty as the federal programs multiply and regulations proliferate.  The federal government collects new taxes, funds a new program, and then tells us precisely what to do to qualify for the newly available “federal funds”.  We, of course, scramble to comply.

As king of Utah, I would declare a targeted federal tax holiday, and would choose to pay the federal government only for the Constitutionally enumerated services they are obligated to provide (i.e., providing our common defense, establishing a unified system of weights and measures, regulating interstate, not intrastate, commerce, etc.).  I would then get to the task of reforming our safety net systems, including Medicaid, without the soul-crushing burden of supplicating mid-level bureaucrats in Washington for permission.  I am convinced that we could and would do a much better job on our own.

My final act as king, hopefully in my old age, would be to restore a democratic republic to Utah.  Effective, of course, only after my death.

Mark Bouchard, senior managing director, Southwest Region, CBRE Utah, and education reformer. Given the authority to enact policy, I would:

  1. Have the State Board of Education appointed by the governor similar to the Board of Regents.
  2. All local School Boards would have one appointee by the governor.
  3. Transfer the power of ALL policy for public education to the State School Board.
  4. Legislative authority for Public Education limited to funding only unless a “policy” enacted by the State Board requires legislation to be enforceable.
  5. Review and determine the exact funding shortfall wherein public school teachers fund supplies and eliminate the need to do so.
  6. Enact a formal Teacher Improvement/Training mechanism that addresses specific Teacher Training based on the following years of experience (initial investment $50 million annually – ongoing funding  not to drop below this baseline):
    • 1-3 years
    • 4-10 years
    • Over 10 years
  7. Tie wage increases for public education teachers to CPI as an automatic mechanism annually.
  8. Enact teacher recruitment beginning the junior year of high school (both young men and young women) the top 1/3 of students scoring on the ACT. The state will cover the cost of your college education for a 5-year commitment to teach in the public education system.

Public Education has become a “political” issue that has done nothing but harm the education environment overall.  The solution for public education is not congruent with electability if you really address the issue appropriately and that is specifically why I’m opposed to the policy-making power held by the legislature.

You can’t do justice to this topic in 200 words and my strategy around this subject is much deeper in terms of solution. There’s certainly more to discuss.