2019 United Way of Salt Lake Legislative Preview Breakfast

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This week I had the pleasure of attending the annual United Way Legislative Preview Breakfast.  This year, the main discussion among the panelists was Utah’s continually underfunded Education System and with the recent Election and Question 1, the discussion was timely and informative.  

United Way President and CEO, Bill Crim kicked off the event by talking about the United Way’s legislative priorities.  At the very top of that list is public education and adequate funding for our students and teachers.  During the 2018 election, Utah voters shot down a proposal that would have infused Utah’s Public Schools with necessary funds for classrooms and teacher pay.  It is now back in the legislature’s hands to fund public education.  Six in ten Utah children start school not ready to learn, which mean we need to not only fund k-12education, but also pre-k and early childhood.  

The panel also focused on education and early childhood education.  The 4 panelists were the new Speaker of the Utah House, Rep. Brad Wilson (R – Layton), the New President of the Senate, Sen. Stuart Adams (R-Layton), the House Minority Leader, Rep. Brian King (D-Salt Lake) and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Karen Mayne (D-West Valley).   Rep. King said, the “most effective use of education money comes in the first 8 years of life.”  Utah must do better when it comes to funding important early childhood education.  Sen. Mayne touched on the need for afterschool programs as well.  They greatly increase a student’s chance for success.  

 Also, part of the discussion was the recent Medicaid expansion passed by Utah voters.  Sen. Karen Mayne touched on the reported addition of a work requirement to the initiative and talked about someone’s ability to work being based on their health.  This article in the Deseret News details part of this discussion and highlights the ongoing threats to Medicaid expansion that will ultimately slow implementation and increase barriers to low-income families for whom Medicaid provides crucial access to health care.

The legislature has a full schedule and more than 1000 bills to get through this session, and it is my hope that they will give our public schools, afterschool programs, and early childhood education the infusion it needs to help Utah students succeed.Re. Rebecca Chavez-Houck said it best, “the lottery of life should be the key determinant of a child’s success.”Utah students deserve better