Last summer's wild fires serve as a wakeup call that we need to address the unchecked buildup of natural fuels not only in the high country, but in the valleys. Six hundred thousand acres of burned land is a sobering statistic. Cheatgrass was a major culprit.
The ever increasing presence of cheatgrass (well-named) has compromised range land and greatly increased fire risk and severity. A bill currently before the legislature would help fund partnering with federal agencies and the agricultural community in a war on cheatgrass and other invasive species.
Everyone seems committed to treat education generously, but the hard numbers remain to be determined. An interim committee was appointed to consider equalizing revenue for capital improvements, but a line appears to have been drawn between the "haves" and the "have-nots". The latter need more funds to address pressing needs, but the former want to retain what they have. That's not a good formula for equalization.
Some less-affluent districts, particularly in rural Utah, will find it increasingly difficult to replace older school buildings.
We have spent a lot of time in committee hearings prioritizing planned expenditures. Our efforts now await anticipated revenue numbers which should be out next week. By the time you read this, we should have a better idea how many dollars will be available. We design to be conservative and responsible while meeting the reasonable needs of our citizens. Our economy remains strong in spite of national troubles. Utah is generally recognized as the best managed state in the union. We want to keep it that way.
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