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Guest opinion: Continuing Utah's competitive growth requires these things

Skyline of Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. New CDC data shows two states above replacement fertility level. Experts aren't sure if trend shows births delayed or births foregone all together.
Skyline of Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Golden State Warriors have won three out of the last four NBA championships. Since 2002, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have won six Super Bowls. While that is notable, it pales in comparison to Utah earning the top ranking for the economic outlook in the "Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index" for the 12th year in a row.

Winning can be taken for granted, especially when it keeps happening over and over, but policymakers need to continue to move the ball forward in making Utah even more competitive. An important principle from ALEC’s work, following the achievement of states, is that it is possible for states to fall behind simply by standing still. State policymakers across America are using the robust economic growth and the federal tax reform — the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — to make themselves more competitive. Just in the past year, 16 states significantly reduced their tax burdens in an effort to make themselves more competitive. Importantly, Utah reduced income tax rates for individuals and businesses. Even more importantly, Utah needs to continue to be forward thinking and aim to lead the charge on economic competitiveness.

Increasing property tax transparency, reforming pensions and reducing the income tax rate are some of the many contributing factors as to why Utah’s economy is robust, healthy and ranked No. 1 in the "Rich States, Poor States" report. On the flip side, the five lowest ranked states have several things in common — bloated government spending, excessive tax burdens and significant outmigration.

Over the past 10 years, states such as New York (loss of more than 1.3 million), California (loss of more than 800,000) and Illinois (loss of more than 783,000) have seen residents leave in droves, while Utah has seen an influx of new residents. People are “voting with their feet” right in front of our eyes, and voting strongly in favor of living in states with limited government and free market policy environments, which are conducive to economic growth and opportunity.

Additionally, one of Utah's greatest strengths is balancing its budget each year. However, spending patterns are changing, population is increasing and demand for core services multiplying. Utah needs a tax system that reflects the changing economy and enhances Utah’s economic competitiveness for years to come.

If Utah is to maintain the current trajectory as a leader in upward economic mobility, and also continue to accommodate essential programs such as transportation infrastructure, invest in quality education outcomes and provide health and human services for those in need, a pro-growth tax system is key.

Addressing matters head-on has produced positive, effective outcomes for Utah. Recognitions, such as the No. 1 ranking for economic outlook are accomplished by thoroughly examining what is and isn’t working and not shying away when it comes to challenging issues. Let this latest accomplishment for Utah serve as a reminder to all of us not to reminisce but to remain steadfast as we strive for the best future for all hardworking Utahns.