CEDAR CITY — On his bi-monthly Direct Link program, which originated from Cedar City and was heard Tuesday evening on KVNU, Utah Governor Spencer Cox said he is greatly anticipating the Legislative session that will begin just after the beginning of next year.
“We’re looking forward to the session that is coming starting that second week in January, it goes for 45 days, one of the shortest sessions in the country. We were very pleased to share our budget with the legislature just last week, in fact just a week ago. As we unveiled what we believe is an important budget, and at the corner stone of that budget, because we’ve been so successful, if you’ve followed this at all, understand that Utah has the best economy in the country right now,” he explained.
Cox said most states still have not recovered their jobs from COVID. And Utah is one of only two states that recovered in less than a year.
The governor was asked with the state undergoing a strong economy and rapid growth, how do you maintain and define quality of life?
“It’s interesting because my definition of that has probably changed a little bit over the past few years. My initial reaction is always to say- look we want to make sure that we have a transportation system. Quality of life goes down when people are stuck in traffic, that’s one thing that we know for sure. People want to be able to enjoy the outdoors, and as our parks get crowded, making sure that we have recreation opportunities for people.”
Governor Cox had another commitment, so halfway through, he turned the program over to his rural advisor, Stephen Lisonbee. Now that a rural office has been established at Southern Utah University he talked about the end gain of having a presence outside the Wasatch Front.
“There was a tour out to all the cities and towns throughout the state where he(Cox) spent time with them. It informed him in such a way that he realized, ‘hey I need to spend time with the people and to have access to them where we can convene and meet’. So the idea of having a secondary office off the Wasatch Front into a rural community made sense, and Cedar City for a long time has been known as a convening place for a lot of rural Utah…so it was a natural fit,” he said.
Lisonbee said rural Utah shares many of the same concerns as more urban areas of the state.
“Right now, access to water is top of the list,(also)discussing ways around ensuring there’s a quality of life. That means access to broadband, so that we can continue education with the new models that we saw implemented in 2020. The building to afford housing, even some of our smallest communities have seen cost of housing increase.”
He said the whole state needs to come together, both urban and rural, to work together on collective solutions.