Opinion: Let’s tackle problems the ‘Utah Way’
As the legislative session begins, remember that we are not victims of circumstance. We can do more than just accept the future, we can drive it and make it what we want it to be.
As the pandemic enters its third year, there is a real sense of fatigue setting in across the country. The past two years have been a challenge for all of us, with long lines for COVID tests, exhausted health care professionals, supply chain interruptions, workforce shortages, skyrocketing housing costs, social unrest, inflation, and an ongoing drought. It’s enough to make you feel optimistic only about the future of pessimism.
Here in Utah, those challenges come as our state is experiencing remarkable population growth. According to a recent survey, 2 in 5 Utahns believe our state’s growing population will make life worse, a significant swing in sentiment from just seven years ago.
In the face of these challenges it is important to remember we are not victims of circumstance. We can do more than just accept the future. We can drive it and make it what we want it to be.
We talk a lot about the “Utah Way” of doing things. It’s a rare combination of vision, principles, collaboration and responsibility that has served us well for decades. As we open the 2022 general legislative session, my colleagues in the House of Representatives and I will work to make important progress in five important areas essential to what I like to call, the Utah way forward.
Our water supply faces increased demand as our population grows. That makes our efforts to conserve, optimize and preserve our diminishing water supply even more important and more time sensitive.
Life is getting more expensive in Utah due to our state’s rapid population and income growth. Buying a home, raising a family or settling into retirement in Utah is a dream that is becoming out of reach for many. We must identify and remedy government policies that have exacerbated these economic issues to ensure that current and future generations can afford to establish a life in Utah.
We are blessed with dedicated teachers, counselors and other education leaders. And we have businesses flocking to Utah to hire our graduates. But the world we live in is more dynamic than at any point in human history — so our schools must be as well.
We simply cannot afford to assume that the way we approach education today will be sufficient to prepare students for a prosperous future.
Maintaining the ‘Utah Way’
For years, we have been preparing for the rapid population growth that is now our reality. The challenge to maintain the quality of life that draws so many to Utah is significant and one we need to keep at the forefront of our policy debates.
We are making large-scale, strategic investments in a few key projects that have the promise to provide generational impacts. With the same foresight shown by past leaders, we can invest a portion of our abundance today in generational projects to ensure Utahns continue to prosper for decades to come.
In his book, “The Map of Time,” Felix J. Palma wrote, “We are the authors of our own fate — we write it each day with every one of our actions.” From today through this session and through the years ahead, let’s recommit to doing things the Utah way, and let’s be bold as we chart the “Utah Way Forward.”
Brad Wilson is the Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives