New 2020 Concern
Our current state legislature continues to attempt to pass tax laws that according to some will actually increase our taxes even while telling us they are tax cuts. According to Utah Legislative Watch, the December 2019 tax reform laws passed by our state legislature in special session would actually have amounted to an annual $330 million TAX INCREASE in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 (now repealed thanks mostly to the January 2020 citizens' petition against the tax reform law). Even as taxpayers are told that the state needs more money because of declining sales tax revenue, just the opposite might be occurring. Our sales taxes likely have actually continuously increased to record levels as the state legislature has been increasing our sales tax rates.
These major tax changes would have likely hurt you and the low and moderate-income families as well as our senior citizens, your parents or grandparents. For the second time, our State Legislature rushed through important changes in our laws. First was ignoring the public's desire for medical marijuana and expanded Medicaid and now our state legislators went after our pocketbooks without affording the public the opportunity to attend committee hearings and bypassing the regular legislative process again using a special session. What emergency was so important that the state legislature had to push through these major changes without allowing public and public interest group input? What terrible consequences have occurred with the non-action that ultimately happened with a drastically reduced tax reform bill passed? We need state representatives who trust the public more than themselves.
The problem with our Utah state legislative efforts to change our tax system is that these efforts continue to benefit the rich who least need tax reform ("Utah tax 'reform' should be rejected," The Salt Lake Tribune, December 12, 2019, "Top earners would benefit most from Utah tax reform," The Salt Lake Tribune, October 29, 2019). While understandably our State and the public have been focused on trying to improve public education, the real problem maybe the diminishing income value of the middle class that has been the foundation of the economic vitality of our nation. "From 1979 to 2017, as the average real annual wages of the top 1 percent of Americans rose 156 percent (and the top. 01 percent's wages rose by a stunning 343 percent), the purchasing power of the average American's paycheck did not increase." Nick, Hanauer, Better Schools Won’t Fix America, The Atlantic Magazine, July 2019; See also "Is a booming economy hiding working-class suffering? A look at who is thriving and who is not," Deseret News, February 20, 2020. Mr. Hanauer argues that the problem is that the rest of us, the bottom 90 percent of the population, are forced into trying to divvy up a shrinking share of the national wealth while the rest is siphoned off by the increasingly wealthy dynasties.
Our Legislative District deserves a State Representative who understands the burden that the hard working middle class in our community carries and contending with increasing property and sales taxes, and government fees in the face of possible budget surpluses that don't seem to provide any relief. I commit to:
Working to pass government finance reform laws that involves Utahns paying their "fair share" of government services, making sure that those families earning over a million dollars a year contribute their share of the burden of operating our state and local governments.
Researching and making sure that the residents of Northern Davis County understand in detail how much and where government revenue is coming from to operate State government programs each year, including how much internet sales taxes have helped to balance the loss of retail sales from our bricks and mortar stores, which has been estimated to add between $30 million to $70 million dollars each year to the state budget, according to Brett Hastings of Utah Legislative Watch, at a United Women's Forum on January 8, 2020.
Involving local residents, especially those educated in accounting and economics to help develop our Community position on tax reform and then directly involving local residents in helping me as your Representative to come up with our own position on how we pay taxes and spend your money for government services.
Updated 2018 Concern
Supporting Our Local Businesses Serving You
Several Clinton residents told me last year (2019) that as Zion Bank customers they have to drive either to Ogden or Layton if they want to visit with an actual banker because there are no branch offices in Clinton. Wells Fargo closed two branches one in Clearfield and another in Layton last year making me have to travel an additional three or four miles to visit my bank. My favorite Italian restaurant, one that always seemed crowded, closed about a decade ago, the owner telling me the renewed lease agreement cost had risen too much. A Clinton man told me (February 7, 2019) that he used to pick up Utah State University Aggie custard at the Macy's in Logan until it was closed. Now he has to go to the University to get it. While Utah spends millions of our tax dollars to entice big companies to come to Utah, maybe it's time to help local small businesses (that also employ local people) and other businesses that already serve residents directly with goods and services that we want. Let's keep our own businesses that already employ many local residents in business so they can continue to grow and prosper. The foundation and employee-generator and innovator in this Country has been small business. Let's keep it that way.
Perhaps it's time to stop subsidizing corporations to move to Utah, government-business welfare, and begin to focus on the quality of life not the quantity of over-development that has created a housing shortage and rapid acceleration of housing development that is destroying our state's pristine open spaces and rural environment, creating more traffic congestion, and unacceptable, unhealthy pollution.
Our Jobs Threatened by Artificial Intelligence and Automation
The future is here. More and more human jobs are being eliminated as automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence used by corporations save labor costs, earn profits, and replace humans. Already, more and more consumers are using self-service machines providing services that used to be provided by human beings.
Gasoline service station pumps
Grocery store check-out lines
Drive-through ATM machines
A new study by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C. think tank..."predicted that Salt Lake and Ogden-Clearfield would be among the 10 top regions in the United States for workforces impacted by artificial intelligence," Deseret News, (December 7, 2019). This new study reveals how artificial intelligence may now extend to impacting middle class white-collar jobs in the fields of health care, finance, insurance, and information services in addition to manufacturing and agricultural jobs that have already been experiencing AI effects. Walmart appears to be proposing to cut hourly supervisor and assistant manager positions, hitting the white collar middle class the hardest while it replaces other employees with robots to stock shelves, sort deliveries, scrub floors." "Walmart employees say they're preparing for job cuts as retailer rolls out its 'Great Workplace' program," The Washington Post (February 18, 2020).
There was a time when automation was being called a miracle to make our lives more convenient and more productive. Yet it seems that most of the benefits may now be going to those large corporations that have acquired the means to purchase and own automated devices and use artificial intelligence to replace low income and middle class jobs. Perhaps it's time for our state representative to call for a compensation on behalf of the thousands of employees who are being replaced by technology. Perhaps our society and ordinary people should also reap the benefits of automation that are enjoyed by employers and corporations that now get to retain the corporate earnings of technology. Perhaps it's time for states severely impacted by automation and artificial intelligence to tax such robotic equipment and artificial intelligent services so that you and I can also enjoy the benefits of these scientific discoveries and progress.
Our Local Economy and Farms
Our precious farmland is a special local resource that benefits families with more healthy and better tasting food. The availability of such food closer to the people also protects our environment through reducing transportation and distribution resources and costs. Such productive land should not be taken away lightly. Local government use of eminent domain to take property away from private owners has been traditionally reserved for redevelopment purposes to improve blighted or difficult to develop property. The use of the government's power to take farmland away from private citizens should only occur as a last resort after other, even moderately more expensive, options have been considered. Utah instead needs to consider the promotion of government-university sponsored research and pilot projects into the feasibility of transforming our local farms into productive farmland year round.
Residents need more opportunities to market their own unique goods and services within our local economy. Instead of allowing our sales dollars to flow outside our community (especially to out of state online corporations), we need to keep and retain our own valuable pocketbooks and buy from and sell to each other. I am committed to expanding and transforming our farmer markets into a community-wide commercial vendors' market that would become a destination business center for the County year round.
Our Businesses Deserve Educated and Qualified Utah Employees.
With some of the lowest unemployment rates in years, Utah employers are finding it more and more difficult to hire educated and qualified employees they need "Utah is facing a major worker shortage," Deseret News (January 14, 2020). Instead of businesses having to hire more and more employees from out of state or experience a labor shortage, more Utah residents need better access to higher education opportunities, childcare, and affordable housing. Utah needs an educated, healthy local workforce using their skills in meaningful employment to stay number one.
Look into the economic feasibility of offering “reduced cost" higher education programs for residents committed to working for Utah businesses.
Opening up to the idea of business tax credits or deductions for providing on-site child care services for operating costs for private contractors and capital expenditures for construction or remodeling of child care rooms or centers that offer child care that has often been difficult for employees and owners to find and afford.
Explore non-traditional housing options such smaller housing designs to lower the exorbitant cost of housing for Utah employees, especially for Millennials and lower-income employees, and carefully plan neighborhoods based on sustainable urban-design principles to accommodate moderate increases in housing density to minimize their impact on our communities.