Budgets-good news/bad news. We will meet the constitutional mandate to balance the budget. Higher education will be 9 percent below last year. Public education will be down 6 percent. Similar or greater cuts will apply to all state agencies. Public employees will be hurt. I sincerely regret that. It's hard to call this "good-news," but the projected cuts were double what will actually be imposed. The "bad-news" is that we have picked-up the slack by using the federal bailout money. It will run out in due course. If the economy recovers within a couple of years, we will be fine. If not, we will be looking for revenue-it could be a lot of revenue. The "rainy-day" fund is still intact. That's good management and provides some comfort, but it will not carry us too far. Eventually, we may have to examine the real hard questions such as whether we want larger class sizes in our public schools. I will work hard to try to prevent that outcome.
Secret ballot. We adopted a measure to guarantee secret ballot in efforts to unionize workers. It will come before the people in the 2010 general election. I appreciate all the emails I received on this subject and agree that the right to vote by secret ballot is a core value in this country.
House Bill 187. This may be the most hotly debated bill of the 2009 legislature. Its purpose is to define the rights of fishermen to access streams on private property. It grows out of a Supreme Court decision holding that since the public owns the water the public can walk, fish, and hunt any place the water runs. The decision provides little protection for private property owners and would open lands that have been closed since they were homesteaded in the 1800s. It wholly disregards historical practices, which are the foundation for other rights to use public water.
Utah law has long recognized that while water belongs to the public, the right to use the water can be controlled and regulated.