So your mail-in ballot should be arriving in your mailbox anytime now. Who are you going to vote for in House District 9? Since I am soliciting your vote again this election cycle, I thought it would be helpful to share some position statements with you. Please compare these with my opponent's to make an informed decision. Here are my positions:
We all want clean air. None of us disagree about that. I voted last year to support conversion of Utah's Oil Refineries to produce cleaner Tier III fuels. Tier III fuel will make the biggest positive impact on our quality of air.
Funding education is important. During a recent Special Session, I passed a bill called Tax Credit Review Amendments which gives the a committee oversight of $600 Million in taxes that are dedicated to the education budget. Prior to passing this bill, no real oversight of these precious tax dollars existed.
I have spent time with teachers and education administrators to discuss the Common Core issue. While we all agree that standards are important, the SAGE testing aspect is a major disappointment for most parties. It provides excellent information for administrators while needlessly stressing students and teachers. It also gives misleading information to parents and serves as an unhelpful yard stick for grading school performance. The time dedicated to the testing also distracts from the education process. So, I support ending the use of SAGE tests in lieu of another more common sense assessment mechanism.
Of course, teacher shortages and college and career preparedness are major issues affecting our education programs right now. I support additional compensation for teachers to keep quality educators in our classrooms. I am also hopeful that opening up the teaching profession to uncertified but otherwise highly qualified professionals will help alleviate pressure on our schools to fill their teacher rosters.
For the past two years I have served as the Vice-Chair of the Revenue and Taxation Standing Committee. All major tax policy proposals in the state are heard before our committee. I voted against the Gas Tax bill and against the Property Tax Equalization bill in 2015. Both of these tax increases were proposed in a year when we had a $600 Million budget surplus and that surplus should have been used to offset the proposed increases.
I believe that government should fund basic services but should be limited in its ambition to grow new and far reaching programs. While government is necessary, it is terribly inefficient when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars to achieve its goals. I trust taxpayers to spend their money more wisely than governments do.
Utah is in an unprecedented economic boom right now. Much of this is attributed to Utah's low regulation environment that fosters entrepreneurial spirit and innovation through competition. While not perfect, I support our Legislature's approach to regulation. We keep it minimal and look at new regulations with a healthy dose of skepticism. Many industries look to regulation to shut out competition and promote market monopolies for themselves. I oppose regulations that serve this purpose. Government's job is to make sure players in the market are honest and fair dealing. Utah's job market today has benefited from the Legislature's self restraint when it comes to regulation.
CRIME AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Providing for public safety is one of the basic services of government. I am a member of the Law Enforcement Standing Committee which hears bills related to crime and punishment. I can tell you that it is a heavy load to bear when hearing heart wrenching testimony from victims and victims advocates. Nevertheless, the committee often balances the issues of personal freedom with the need to protect the public. I have a great deal of personal experience dealing with felons and working to reincorporate them in society. My experience has informed my views on how we need to rehabilitate willing individuals who are coming out of our correctional system. Fortunately, we recently voted to fund better drug treatment and rehab programs to help stem the tide of convicts rotating in and out of our system. With such a program, taxpayers will benefit from having to spend less on correctional housing, less on personal property damages, and the economy will benefit from having more sober and able bodied workers in the workforce.
I support the right of individuals to express their faith in the public square. I support prayer in public meetings and I oppose religious litmus tests when hiring employees.
Since the Great Recession, net in migration from our southern border has been virtually zero. However, the border is still very porous. I sponsored bi-partisan immigration reform my first year in the House. But, ultimately, the state deferred to Federal authorities on the immigration issue. While our state authority is limited, I support common sense immigration laws such as preventing non-citizens from living on our welfare rolls. Immigration, when it does occur, needs to happen in numbers small enough to encourage the greatest possible amount of assimilation into our society and culture.
Thank you for taking time to read about my positions on the issues. Of course, there is so much more to read here at my blog. Feel free to peruse the last 6 years of work I have done on your behalf. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me at 801-390-1480.
Representative Jeremy Peterson
House District 9