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Utah elected officials lay out future plans

At last year’s election, the citizens of Utah selected some old faces and some new. Those who represent the district that includes Weber State University in the state legislature, the Weber County treasurer, and the Gov. Gary Herbert/Lt. Greg Gov. Be

ll administration elaborated on their goals.

Rep. Ryan Wilcox said his overall goal is to leave Utah and his district better than he found it, including WSU.

“I would like to see Weber State University ‘double down’ on meeting the economic and business needs of the area,” he said. “Immediate plans include further expansion at the Davis campus, continued development of the Ogden campus, and further transition to technology-based education.”

Wilcox said he doesn’t want to presume to declare what is important to the wide range of citizens around college age. He is involved in policymaking that may have an effect on the decisions made at the Utah State Legislature.

“As the chairman of Revenue and Taxation, I am heavily involved in tax policy, alcohol reform, economic development, natural resource development, parental rights, education and criminal justice,” Wilcox said. “The most pressing issue once again this year will be how to deal with the budgetary constraints imposed by the recession and federal entitlement obligations while trying to fund everything else.”

Sen. Allen Christensen elaborated on his plans in the Senate.

“My goals are to help Utah maintain its course as the best-managed state in the nation,” he said.

This goal can be achieved, he said, by building the economy and balancing the budget.

“When we build our economy, we bring jobs to Utah, and therefore employment opportunities for college grads, and also help college students pay their way while they are still in school,” he said.

John Bond, Weber County treasurer, has certain goals for Weber County. He said he wants to keep the public’s money safe. He also said the financial crisis over the past 3-4 years has had a big impact on citizens. During this time, Bond said, he has overseen the investing and safekeeping of money.

“There has been significant financial pressure during this time, but we have held a very conservative and prudent investment course and have kept the public’s money safe,” he said.

Bond said his biggest focus for WSU right now has been the joint venture between Weber County and WSU. An article in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Aug. 7, 2012 discussed this venture. The article said Standard & Poor’s, a U.S.-based financial services company, awarded Weber County an AAA bond rating on its sales tax revenue bonds.

“This signals financial institutions that the county is a low-risk borrower, which correlates into lower interest rates, bigger savings on bonds and less taxpayer money spent on interest payments,” Bond said.

The county will use the savings to pay for a joint project with WSU that will result in a two-story facility with a new ice sheet on the bottom floor and an indoor multi-use practice field on the upper floor.

At the state executive level, Herbert and Bell have specific goals. According to Eric Ellis, adviser to Bell, “The overall goal of the administration is that Utah will lead the nation as the best-performing economy and be recognized as a premier global business destination.”

Ellis mentioned four cornerstones the administration is focusing on: education, jobs, energy and self-determination. The first cornerstone is an educated work force with a goal of 66 percent of adult Utahns with a postsecondary degree or professional certification by 2020. The second cornerstone is to accelerate private sector job creation of 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days.

An energy goal of the administration is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy by producing 25 percent more electrical energy than we consume by 2020,” Ellis said.

The goal of self-determination includes creating Utah solutions for health care, public lands and immigration.

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