The Rise of The States; The Rise of Utah

By Greg Bell
Lieutenant Governor

Much has been said about the need for rebalancing the relationship between the federal government and the states.  The Tenth Amendment notwithstanding – it has proven to be very difficult to wrest power from Washington.  The federal juggernaut has only grown and grown.  However, the recent budget crisis revealed to all that our national government is on its knees.  It cannot finance its current operations, let alone embark on new programs.  Consequently, the states – at least the states who are prepared – are becoming much more influential.

One western governor who served in Congress for several years recently told me he had left Congress because the federal government is such a big “boat” that it can hardly be turned. He came home to his small state, to a much more nimble “boat,” allowing him to have a greater impact for good.

Utah is poised to progress because of its great fundamentals.  Companies tell us they are moving here – and they are doing so in significant numbers – because Utah has:

1.      a bright, educated work force, tech-savvy and motivated,

2.      a very high quality of life,

3.      low taxes, and

4.      fiscally prudent state government.

They particularly single Utah out for the quality of our workforce and our predictable regulatory and legislative environment.  California passed high tax rates and pushed the envelope on business and consumer regulations, thus driving out many businesses.  Moreover, their stringent development and building requirements inflated the cost of a home out of the reach of the Average Joe.  By contrast, Utah maintains a free market, with sensible regulations to keep a level playing field.

Government policies do make a difference:

1.      Thousands of jobs have been or soon will be created by companies relocating to Utah in recent months, and that doesn’t include the relocating companies we don’t know about and the robust expansion of several homegrown Utah companies.

2.      Utah’s coveted AAA bond rating, shared by only a handful of states, saves taxpayers millions in interest costs. This also helps our school districts and other entities borrow on the strength of the State’s bond rating.

3.      Utah is attracting notice from around the nation and indeed the world.  Here is a small sample: Fortune recently named Salt Lake City as one of the 15 best places to do business in the entire world (Austin, TX, was the only other US city).  Forbes.com named Utah as the best state for business and jobs in the Union.  Business Facilities magazine rated Utah as the best business climate, edging out perennial leader Texas.

4.      Job-creating capital goes to the lowest cost location with the best business environment and employee quality of life.  Right now, that’s Utah.

5.      Utah’s health insurance exchange is nationally recognized and has become the model of choice for market-oriented states as opposed to federally-mandated one-size-fits-all exchanges.

6.      We’ve developed and enacted an innovative approach to Medicaid, which under the existing structure threatens to overwhelm states’ budgets.

The states, not the federal government, are generally best suited to create a business friendly, job building environment.  Utah is doing it as well or better than any other state.  For these and many other reasons, states are on the rise, and Utah is at the forefront.

 

Cross-posted at:  http://blog.lg.utah.gov/2011/08/the-rise-of-the-states-the-rise-of-utah/