Senator Ross Romero, Democratic Leader in the Utah Senate
Good evening. I’m Senator Ross Romero, Democratic Leader in the Utah State Senate. Thank you for your civic engagement, and for tuning in tonight to learn about the important issues and unique challenges that we face as a state. I want you to know that Utah Democrats are working on behalf of you and your families. We recognize the struggles so many of us have had to endure during the economic downturn of the past few years. But, there is good news and opportunity on the horizon. We are pleased that Utah’s economy is now headed in a positive direction. For the first time in several years, our state is beginning to once again see a surplus in our state budget. Utah Democrats are excited for what the future holds, and we look forward to working with you over the next 6 weeks as we propose and pass legislation that will strengthen Utah’s economy and prepare us for the future.
At this time I’d like to introduce you to my colleague, Representative David Litvack, your Democratic Leader in the Utah House of Representatives, who will discuss some of the Democratic proposals for the 2012 Legislative Session.
Representative David Litvack, Democratic Leader in the Utah Senate
Thank you Senator Romero. Tonight, I’d like to speak with you about some proposals from my Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate, proposals that we believe will lead to a brighter future – a future where Utah will again realize the promise of economic strength and prosperity.
This year Democrats will introduce legislation to help Utah’s growing veteran population through increased access to higher education. We will assist working families by protecting your consumer rights. Utah Democrats will also present measures to keep all of us healthy through better cancer screening and prevention, and we will make proposals to address the poor air quality we face in our state.
Utah’s strong economy has always depended on an educated workforce. For Utah to attract further high-paying jobs, we must double our efforts to provide a highly-educated workforce. From our neighborhood schools, to higher education and career programs, Democrats recognize this vital importance and renew our pledge to provide a better future for our children. No less than the success of our economic development depends upon our efforts now.
I will now turn the time back to Senator Ross Romero, who will talk more about our plan for Utah’s public schools.
Thank you, Representative Litvack.
For many years, the state of Utah has been #1 in business, economic development, tourism, and even #1 in science, technology and research. In many ways, we’re doing very well as a state. So why is it that our schools continue to rank 42nd in the nation? This must change! Our schools should be the very best in the nation.
This year Utah Democrats are introducing legislation designed to put Utah on a path to make Utah’s schools #1. Utah Democrats believe that every Utah child deserves four things:
- An excellent teacher
- Individualized attention
- World-class curriculum
- Neighborhood and family support
If we can reduce classroom sizes in the lower grades or give teachers a little extra help in the classroom, it can do wonders to help our students succeed. Educating Utah’s children has been and will always be our top priority.
Utah Democrats understand that while our economy is recovering, family budgets are recovering, too. But let me be very clear: we do not believe it is fiscally wise to raise taxes for Utah’s working families.
That’s why I’m pleased to announce that the “Best Schools Initiative” includes a funding plan which reprioritizes our resources and does NOT raise taxes. We simply need to change our focus in order to do what’s best for Utah’s kids.
During the economic downturn of the past several years, we have worked diligently to streamline our state budget. Due to Utah’s wise fiscal management, we are now seeing more funds coming into our state revenues. Utah Democrats believe in using these increased revenues for the long-term security of our future. The Best Schools Initiative is designed to wisely plan for Utah – to give our children the very best opportunities, to create new jobs and new businesses, and to secure our economic strength and prosperity.
Thank you again for being with us tonight. We look forward to working with our colleagues in both the House and Senate to meet these important goals. And, as always, we look forward to seeing you and working with you at this year’s legislative session and beyond.