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The Gazelem Response

Well, this year’s State of the State address by Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. at least had me nodding my head a couple of times.  That doesn’t mean that I agreed with most of it though.  Let’s take it point by point.

Huntsman said: “First, we need a personal income tax system that is simpler, flatter, and fairer. We need to provide one of the lowest income tax rates in the West–and one that leaves more money in the pockets of taxpayers. . . . I emphatically urge that legislators approve a flatter personal income tax rate that would lower the percentage an individual pays from seven percent to five percent. It is the wise thing to do and now is the time to act.”

I say: “Right on!  Flatter is better.  Lower is better.  I like what I am hearing.”

Huntsman said: “Now is the time and this is the session to remove the sales tax on food!”

I say: “I don’t think there is a citizen in this State who would disagree with that.  Okay, there might be some far left totalitarian types who might, but hey who counts them.”

Huntsman said: “USTAR–the Utah Science, Technology, and Research Initiative–will capitalize on the unique resources of our State, such as the Utah Population Database, Genomics, Informatics, Personalized Medicine, and the talented faculty and students at the University of Utah and Utah State University. We will be uniquely positioned to produce the next generation of both life-saving discoveries and award-winning researchers if we will take this crucial step forward.
“This session, I ask you to pass the legislation sponsored by Senator Al Mansell and Representative David Clark to make USTAR a brilliant reality!”

I say: “Ummmm… Have you thought of the social ramifications of this research?  Genetic research is highly volatile when it comes to social issues.  It could lead to things that many of the citizens of Utah disagree with (i.e., eugenics, genocide, etc.).  While I think that this research is important and could be helpful to our state.  I am not sure it is the best use of my tax dollars.”

Huntsman said: “Second, we must focus on education. . . . That is why I have proposed a 5.5 percent increase in the amount of money we provide for each student.”

I say: “Okay, I can go for that, IF (big if) that money is earmarked in a way that it goes straight to the classroom and not a penny of it is seen in the administration offices.”

Hunstmans said: “We recognize that today’s youth will, on average, hold several jobs during the course of their careers, unlike earlier generations. . . . The best way to accomplish this objective is to ensure that they develop a passion for knowledge. . . . We have the need, we now have the resources, and it is time to act to make certain that Utah students are receiving a world-class education. . . . That is why I propose a seven million dollar voluntary, all-day kindergarten program in our Title I schools like Washington Elementary here in Bountiful. Our students who desire extra assistance need it early in their academic careers.”

I say: “This is a bad plan.  I personally don’t think that by increasing their time in kindergarten is going to have a long-term effect.  However, my big problem is that even though this is voluntary, it will become the social norm.  And it shouldn’t be.  If you doubt that it will become the social norm, than may I remind you that all kindergarten classes are voluntary, and I believe that there is 90+% enrollment in kindergarten.”

Huntsman said: “We cannot have sustained economic prosperity without an adequate transportation system. . . . We cannot afford to stand back and watch traffic gridlock increase. . . . My budget calls for unprecedented increases in transportation funding. When it comes to improving old roads and investing in new ones, the time is now!”

I say: “I am okay with increases for transportation.  We could use a few road upgrades (send some of it to my roads 😉 ).  But an unprecedented amount?  Is that really necessary?  An unprecedented surplus does not justify an unprecedented anything (accept maybe an unprecedented tax cut).

Huntsman said: “Even though our State’s population grew by a staggering 3.2 percent last year, this year I recommend that we increase the number of full-time State employees by no more than 1.3 percent.”

I say: “Personally, I would like to see no increase, but for a net loss, I will be okay with that.”

For the most part I agreed with the rest of what he said.  Again, I am not completely happy with everything he said, but I do feel a little better this year that I voted for him, than I did last year.

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