The first week of the 2013 legislature session is now history. There are a lot of new faces; most from one political party. I am glad we have both. These are all good solid citizens willing to commit substantial time and resources in order to serve. They were sworn in Monday morning and we began hearing bills before noon. This is the first time I remember that happening.
Tuesday, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court reported on the state judiciary. It is extremely sound. Utah has received substantial national attention for the quality of its judicial branch and the manner in which judges are appointed and retained. Responding to the difficult economic times, the judiciary has become increasingly efficient and most recently has gone to a paperless filing system. The burdensome challenge of storing court records will no longer exist.
The Governor's "State of State" address was delivered Wednesday evening and broadcast on television. It was optimistic and informative. Our unemployment numbers are 40 percent below the national average and we have a modest surplus to begin the year. However, it's at least a hundred million less because of Washington's failure to get its act together. Utah guards against this problem by approving what we term "base budgets" during the first week of the session. They are based upon last year's numbers and will likely be adjusted upward to reflect a growing population and economy. They serve the very useful purpose of not getting caught at the final hour unable to agree and not having a budget in place. This much is certain - once the session ends we will have a budget and it will be in balance.
Once again, education will be our highest priority. We hope to fund growth as well as do a little catch-up. Beyond that the picture will develop during the coming weeks.
A final note: we had snow when I left home, but nothing like we have on the hill. For the first three days, the sheer volume of snow made it difficult to travel in this city. We will all be glad next spring when our reservoirs are full. I welcome anyone who would like to visit the capitol. You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org