Monday, March 17, 2008

It’s a good year to be a Utah Democrat

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Democratic Party will be contesting the most races across the state in recent memory, according to the chairman of the party.

“It’s a good year to be a Utah Democrat,” said Wayne Holland.

“It was much easier to recruit candidates for this election cycle than in previous years,” said Holland. “After the Republican-dominated Legislature ended and ethics reform got nowhere, when health-care reform got nowhere, when Republican leaders continued to make sweetheart deals for their cronies, Utahns have a clearer sense of the need for change.”

Todd Taylor, the party’s executive director, estimated that Democrats will contest eight out of eight statewide and federal races (president, three congressional offices, governor, attorney general, treasurer, and auditor); 14 out of 15 Utah Senate races; and 69 out of 75 Utah House races.


Jerry said...

And Republicans will contest 8 out of 8, 15 out of 15 and 75 out of 75.

As I said earlier, the Republican Utah Legislature once again put the needs of Utahns ahead of other interests and it shows. Democrats can continue to bluster and fume but it's all for not.

The Legislature balanced the budget (with significant monies placed in reserve in case of a downturn - that's forward thinking), passed a meaningful animal torture law, passed Jessica's Law, dealt with a contentious bank/credit union issue, passed a renewable energy standard bill and took care of a number of Veteran's issues.

In addition, they moved forward on health care including Speaker Curtis' bill to allow all qualified children to be covered by CHIP, took major steps on transportation issues and worked collabartively with Salt Lake City to solve it's light rail issue.

Furthermore, they have invested over a billion new dollars into education in the last 4 years, removed most of the sales tax on food and restructured and lowered income tax by over 200 million.

Let's not forget that they entered this session with the Dems, UEA and media claiming they were going to seek retribution. None of that came to pass.

Look at the finished product and Utahns can be proud of the representation they get.

Tom said...

Jerry, I agreed with most of what you said, up to "None of that came to pass." Overtly? No. Can be linked solely to vouchers? No. But there is a cost for disagreement, and it's being paid slowly, and subtly.

UtahTeacher said...

Both education omnibus bills, SB2 and SB281 were retribution. They revived bills from some of the most rightwing, anti-education legislators that had already been killed in committee or on the floor.

The whole omnibus process--brought up as a surprise two days before the end of the session and featuring bills that had already passed, but were tabled and reconstituted into the omnibus bills was a blatant message to educators and moderate legislators to butt out of Stephenson and Valentine's business.

The sneakiest was SB54 which made the deadlines harder to meet for most forms of citizen redress. The bill divided citizen redress into six categories: state, county, and municipal initiatives, and state, county, and municipal referendums. The rationale was supposedly to make things easier on clerks (just like the omnibus) and to make things "uniform." Why then did they choose this session to only change five of the six categories, leaving unchanged the one category that requires the highest number of signatures from the most counties...i.e. statewide referendums? (State-level referendums and initiatives require signatures from a majority of counties and referendums require a higher percentage of voters to sign than initiatives.) I recall exactly zero county and municipal referendums and only a handful of initiatives in the last few years. Is this really overwhelming our poor clerks?

The answer is because they anticipated the scrutiny. They wanted to be able to flaunt "we didn't seek retribution" in an election year. They've no doubt already got the bill making statewide referendums "uniform" (as in "uniformly more difficult") with the other five categories in a file in a Senate office, but are waiting until 2009 to throw it in an omnibus with vouchers and a bill allowing unlimited numbers of charter schools to be paid for by local property taxes.

Jerry said...

utahteacher-first, if SB 54 was sneaky or retribution then why did Goodfellow (a voucher opponent and Democrat) run the bill and the only no vote was Rep Curtis.

Second, love or hate the omnibus bill (281 was not an omnibus bill-in fact, it was put into a stand alone bill because the open House Republican caucus did not want it considered as part of the larger education bill) the pieces of that bill were largely agreed upon and supported.

Did it have pieces that had died on the floor or committee? Yes, however, there were pieces from both parties that had died such as the International Bacculerate and Financial Literacy monies supported by Rep Moss and Sen Jones.

Let's not be pollyanish about the whole thing.

Furthermore, the omnibus bill was not brought up two days before the end of the session. Senator Hillyard announced that they were going to run the omnibus bill on the last Thursday (5 days before it was considered) and there was nothing new included in the bill hence the reason for the 25 million in 281.

UtahTeacher said...

That Goodfellow and every other pro-education or supposedly pro-democratic process legislator voted for SB 54 makes me very sad. Neither party likes hedges on their power. I maintain that the supposed burden on clerks does not justify making the process of citizen redress more difficult on any level. One referendum in 30 years and a handful of initiatives have not shown the current deadlines to be unreasonable. I would like to hear your argument why referendums and initiatives should be made more difficult than they already are and why you think every variety of redress except state wide referendums was included in the bill.

SB 281 also included SB 91 until the House managed to amend it, literally in the last hour of the session. And your point about the well-supported bills is exactly why an omnibus is dishonest. You stick some stinker bills in with things that everyone supports and then portray anyone who argues against the bill as opposing the popular parts. In this case, some bills had actually already been passed by both houses and were repackaged here rather than being sent on to the governor. What purpose does that serve other than to cover up for pet bills of the leadership? The national congress is rightly criticized for commonly employing this practice.

The other two bills you mention do not compare with bills that were actually voted down. Sen. Jones' was furious that her SB 61 was included in the omnibus after passing the Senate floor vote and House committee vote unanimously. The IB bill also passed the house unanimously and was shot down when Senators Dayton, Stephenson, and Peterson believed a silly Eagle Forum article rather than actually doing any independent research at the seven Wasatch Front high schools using the program. Their strange, uninformed comments were criticized both locally and nationally. The leadership rustled up 1/3 of the proposed money to save face.,5143,695257962,00.html

(I'm actually fine with a compromise on a lesser amount--it's the silly power games involved in arriving there that make me mad.)

And you're splitting hairs with the 5 days vs. 2 days argument. I had not heard that it was announced Thursday, but the specifics of the bill were unknown except by Republican leadership until they were announced in the press conference with Pres. Valentine and Senators Stephenson and Dayton on the afternoon of Monday, March 3. Rep. Moss specifically said they were unaware of the defeated bills until then. SB 2 was not debated in the Senate until the 4th and in the House until the 5th. The Senate only debated five of twelve component bills included in the omnibus. That's bad politics over good government.,5143,695258534,00.html

UtahTeacher said...


After all that, I think we could agree on many issues too. It's no secret I am opposed to a lot of state Republican action on education, but I also agree with much of what you first posted.

I'm very happy with the food tax reduction, the bank/credit union compromise, the CHIP coverage, the Veteran's home in Ogden (I think Ogden...) and especially the fiscal restraint in saving for the downturn and reducing the teachers' raise when the new projections came in. Keeping the budget balanced is more important than raises. I just strongly disagree with what I perceive as pork spending on pet education bills rather than working with educators on how to best use the money they want to spend anyway.