This year’s election once again gave Utah voters the chance to speak and be heard on numerous issues. The process of ballot initiative measures was very lively with some passing and others failing. Here are my thoughts on the ballot issues from this year and my sense for what the legislature will do with the issues in the 2019 General Session of the Utah State Legislature.
Education was once again on the ballot with Question 1. The measure would have raised the state agas tax by 10 cents in order to fill a gap in infrastructure funding and direct more money to Utah schools. The measure was defeated and as such, there will be a continued effort to look for resources for education. We have a growing student population and teachers that need more pay. I will continue to push to ensure that teachers, students, and schools are properly funded through the surpluses in upcoming years and through other funding mechanisms.
Utahns ultimately voted to pass medicaid expansion through the passage of Proposition 3. The passage of Proposition 3 will help provide more coverage to Utahns in need, however there are some fiscal concerns the legislature will need to focus on in the upcoming session. According to initial estimates, the funding of Medicaid expansion is still not on the most solid footing. The legislature will need to make sure that the mechanisms for funding the Medicaid expansion are sufficient enough to ensure that the state budget will not be impacted negatively by the expansion. As an advocate for affordable healthcare and fiscal responsibility, I will continue to work towards a solution that expands coverage without hurting other important social programs.
By a slim margin, Utah voters chose to approve a new redistricting commission. As a veteran of the redistricting process, I support the common sense ideas behind Proposition 4 concerning geographic compactness and combination of similar communities. I worked to achieve that in our District 39 following the 2010 census. However, there appears to be a conflict in the initiative that requires the commission to be non-partisan in its work yet directs it to have partisan parity in its recommendations.