The Utah State legislature completed its usual two month annual session last week. In the course of two months, the legislators increased just slightly the funding for education, but not enough to even come close to changing Utah’s position as the state with the lowest funding per student in the entire United States, or to increase the pay of teachers and university professors, among the lowest paid in the country – but they did approve 35% plus pay increases for the governor and top state elected officials.
Nor did the legislature do anything to deal with the air pollution along the Wasatch Front – where something like 80% of the people live and where winter air quality is so bad that healthy people are often advised not to exercise and asthmatics and those with respiratory problems literally take their lives in their hands by venturing outside. In fact, the legislature passed a bill that forbid any restriction on the use of wood-burning stoves, even at times of the very worst air quality.
The Utah Senate did pass SCR 4, a resolution declared that energy development and grazing were the “highest and best use” for the Cedar Mesa area of Utah, in effect stating that industrializing the Mesa through energy development should be prioritized over preserving sacred cultural sites, Native American traditions and a breathtaking natural landscape that draws visitors from around the world.
Because the legislature was concerned about the availability of drugs for execution through lethal injection, the legislature decided to revive death by firing squad as an alternative.
Oh, yes, the legislature also refused any expansion of the Affordable Care Act in Utah, even though the federal government would pay for it, and even voted down a far more modest proposal offered by the Republican governor.
To cap it all off, after all that, the legislature then approved a bill, and appropriated funds, to pay “stipends” to football players at Utah State – in addition to their full scholarships, for the ostensible reason that doing so would bring more tourism to USU and Logan, Utah.