Utah Gov. Cox delivers his 2023 State of the State address

Invites children and grandchildren to focus on “faith in good things to come,” not fear

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox delivered his 2023 State of the State address to the people of Utah and the Utah State Legislature, directing his message to the next generation of Utahns. 

The governor invited legislators, cabinet and senior staff members to bring a child, grandchild or other young family member to the event to represent the future of Utah, and dozens responded, filling the House Chamber and House Gallery. Throughout the 22-minute speech, Gov. Cox assured Utah’s young people of a promising future.

“To every young person today grappling with fear, I want to speak to you. Whether it be fear of finding a good career or a home you can afford to buy. Or fear of a planet in peril, or attacks on democracy — at home or abroad, or the effects of inflation. Or fear of any of the other crazy things in our society today. If there is one message that I could give to you, it is this: The future of our state is not written in the stars. It is for us, the free men and women of Utah, to dictate our destiny … To anyone who believes that the next generation in Utah will be worse off than their parents, my message is simple: not now, not on our watch.” 

He also focused on his policy priorities, vision and goals for Utah’s future, including:

Teacher pay:

“The data is clear. The largest variable in student outcomes is the quality of the teacher. I have said this many times, and I will say it again: If we ran an experiment with two identical students, and you let me pick the teacher, and I let you pick everything else: the school, the curriculum, the books, the software and electronics, the administration, I will win every time. And if we want to guarantee that we have the best teachers, we must invest in our teachers.”

The Great Salt Lake and water conservation:

“We find ourselves in the greatest drought in the western United States in over 1,200 years. Earlier this month, a report predicted that in just five short years the Great Salt Lake will completely disappear. Let me be absolutely clear. We are not going to let that happen. 

“I am grateful — and thank God every night — for the impressive amounts of snow we have received so far this season. Miraculously, the Great Salt Lake has already risen more than it did all last year! A few months ago, before the first big storm, I asked my team to include $5 million in my budget proposal for flood mitigation. I didn’t want to be the person to show up for a prayer meeting without my umbrella. It’s too soon to know, but I sincerely hope we need that money.”  

Affordable housing:

“If we want less expensive housing, we simply need more of it. And not just deeply affordable or low-income housing — although we certainly need that, too — but more of everything.

“We can build more and do it in a way that does not diminish the quality of life. Smart density, in the right places, paired with improved infrastructure from wise investments, and a renewed emphasis on single-family starter homes — remember those? — will make certain that Utah does not become like California and that future generations will be able to call this state home.” 

Tax cuts

“My philosophy is simple. I believe that Utah families can spend this surplus better than we can. And so I am proposing an historic $1 billion in tax relief for Utah families. While almost all of the levers of inflation are outside our state’s control, we can and must enable Utahns to keep more of their hard-earned dollars to combat the rising cost of living.”  

Social media:

“Beginning in 2009, mental health issues among students exploded. Emergency room visits for self-harm by young people between the ages of 10-19 skyrocketed. For young women, the number more than doubled — and that was before the pandemic.

“If these types of numbers were associated with any other disease, we would be focusing every resource and effort to fix what is broken. But somehow because it is technology related, we have done almost nothing as a country.

“This is unacceptable. In Utah, we’re done waiting for someone else to solve the problem. To the social media companies who have been reckless in protecting our youth, Utah parents are putting you on notice. If you insist on fighting us, be assured that we are more than ready for a fight and we will win. Or you can join us and be part of the solution.”

State of the State:

I truly believe that there has never been a better time in the history of the world to be alive than right now. And there has never been a better place to live than right here, in Utah. 

The full speech can be viewed on the governor’s website.