It’s no secret that Utah is doing something right. It’s splashed all over the headlines of CNBC, Forbes, Washington Post, and U.S. News and World Report that Utah is the best place to live, work, learn and play. The secret to our success, however, appears to be a little more elusive.
What makes Utah so unique is the level of cooperation we’ve created with our lawmakers, business community, and community partners. In this regard, the quality of the governance of the state of Utah is unsurpassed. Together we’re creating the model for the ingredients for a top-tier economy.
This past legislative session is an example of what’s possible when the business community and the Legislature work together.
We saw education get a big boost in funding. Utah lawmakers approved more than $340 million in new money for public and higher education, including a 4 percent increase in per-pupil spending. Lawmakers also approved a $1 billion bond to advance key road projects. And soon we’re going to have cleaner-burning Tier 3 fuels that will improve our air quality, produced right here in Utah, thanks to good tax policy designed to solve a community problem.
Fundamental to our state’s success has also been the focus on evidence-based policymaking. This legislative session regulatory reforms were passed to ensure Utah produces rules and regulations that enhance, not encumber, jobs and economic growth. Now, every suggested piece of legislation will include a regulatory note quantifying the potential cost of the proposed legislation, ensuring we know the true impact of regulation on our citizens and business community.
These pro-growth policies help sustain our premier business environment and strengthen our robust and innovative economy. It’s for that reason the Salt Lake Chamber honors lawmakers who have voted with business on issues the Chamber’s Executive Board deemed a priority. Our 2017 “Priority Votes” include issues related to education and workforce, infrastructure investment, air quality and regulation reform.
The Chamber is proud to say that 89 percent of our state legislators have qualified this year for this designation, including all 19 freshman legislators.
This year our “Legislator of the Year” is Representative Brad Wilson. As a business owner himself, Rep. Wilson, in his first year as Majority Leader, became the focal point of many of the business community’s top priorities. His leadership was invaluable to many of the Chamber’s priorities, including the most extensive overhaul of regulatory policy in our state’s history, modernizing alcohol laws, a significant air quality initiative and a new performance driven model for higher-education funding.
We thank Rep. Wilson, and all of our Business Champions, for their commitment to support the business principles that empower a free enterprise economy and build a stronger community. We look forward to working with them in the year ahead to modernize our tax code, continue to improve our air quality and make continued progress towards greater innovation, accountability and investment in education.