House and Senate Democrats Respond to the Governor's State of the State

The following is a speech given by House Democratic Caucus Leader, Representative Brian King, as a response to Governor Gary Herbert's annual State of the State address:

"Utah’s support for business interests is strong. On that, Utahns can agree. Democrats don’t disagree that we need policies that ensure Utah’s economic vitality. But those policies should always focus on real people and we must keep in mind that corporations are not people. They are not touched by the life of a dying parent. They don’t argue with a spouse over the cost of a car. They don’t experience the rigors of toilet training their children. They don’t learn and grow in the way that people do. Their lungs aren’t destroyed by polluted air. They aren’t inspired by looking at the beauty of Canyonlands as they stand at Dead Horse Point. Corporations don’t worry about how to make a car payment or work two and three jobs to pay for their college education.

Why should working Utahns bear the revenue losses associated with tax loopholes the legislature gives to lure big corporations to Utah? It’s not right or fair that Utah’s tax policies line the pockets of those who already are doing more than well in the business world. Regular Utahns should not be left behind.

We aren’t asking for heartfelt stories or touching memories of members of our families who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. We are asking for the Governor and legislature to put into place solutions to working Utahns needs. We need people to be paid a living wage, receive equal pay for equal work, and have access to paid family leave. We need to commit the resources to improve our education system, our air quality, and access to healthcare - not spend more time and energy trying to find out what’s really going on. We know what’s going on. Our leaders have not shown the courage to lead. It is time for that to change.

We know where the money is. We know what the people of Utah will and will not put up with. We know what they want, and time and time again their government ignores them.

The people want a fully funded education system.

The people want easier ways to vote, not more hoops to jump through.

The people want an end to the opioid epidemic, and access to health care.

The people want laws that prevent gun violence, not allow anyone and everyone who has an urge to own a firearm to carry and potentially kill.

The people want a reasonable, rational solution to the public lands fight, not extended and costly litigation that only hurts our state’s credibility and drains our coffers.

This isn’t about winning. This is about doing what’s right. Democrats in the House and Senate have been proposing legislation for years to give the people exactly what they ask of all of us. But we’ve been stopped on critical issues over and over again. We fight for education, good and transparent government, health and public safety, and for a vibrant economy that allows everyone to play on an even field.

It’s time to stop pretending. It’s time to cut through the stories and the rhetoric. Utah’s corporate structure is strong, but working people are bent to their breaking point. We want to ask Utahns directly: Are you comfortably making ends meet? Are you living the American dream? Your elected officials propose thousands of changes to laws, but are those changes helping you?

200,000 Utahns are about to lose their health care. Immigrants and refugees are being scapegoated through fear and racism. Women, more than 50% of our population, do not receive equal protection under our state and federal laws. None of this is right. All of this must change.

Our nation and our state are at a tipping point. We can grow. We can lead. Or we can follow the trends of national politics and cower to those that would have us move backwards, against our values. We will not cower. We will not agree to give back the ground we have gained over the last 50 years. I will fight for all Utahns, be they women, immigrants, refugees, men, people experiencing homelessness, prisoners, convicts, the employed, the unemployed. We will fight for anyone who wants a better life. We will fight for anyone who wants a better state. We will fight for you."