Wednesday, January 17, 2007

State of Utah

Last night, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman delivered his yearly "State of the State" address. I think my state's governor is on to something. I can only hope that he's going to be able to put through the things he's talking about. Let me give you a preview.

As for education:

These fine teachers, and thousands of their colleagues, deserve our sincere appreciation. To show this gratitude my budget calls for 18.2% in new education funding. This includes $25 million for a one-time bonus for Utah teachers in the classroom. But we must continue to do more. Much more. For these reasons, my complete education proposal - which includes a 9% increase in compensation - represents the largest total public education budget in our State's history.

I think that's a good idea. A 9% increase in teacher's salaries will help, that's for sure. He's got a lot better chance of getting support for it because all the school administrators (which there are too many of) will be getting a raise, as well. I think another fiscally sound solution to getting more money into the places it needs to would be to fire a bunch of these administrative "middle men."

By fundamentals, I mean helping Utah children receive adequate healthcare. It is an irony that we live in a country which mandates insurance for our cars, but not for our children's health. For too long the lament over the large number of those without health insurance has been fragmented and unproductive. We must stop seeing this crisis as a one dimensional social issue. The large number of those without health insurance nationally and in our own State highlights a dilemma in defining the proper role of government and a critical challenge to the exercise of individual responsibility. I am recommending more than $4 million to lift the cap on the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which will allow more than 14,000 additional Utah children access to the health care they so desperately need.

In addition to the children, there are hundreds of thousands of uninsured adults. We must stop kidding ourselves that those who are uninsured are simply not receiving health care. They are receiving care, but they are receiving too little, too late - and typically in settings such as emergency rooms where the care is much more expensive than if it had been provided elsewhere. And who is paying for this care? In rare cases it is the uninsured themselves, but in the overwhelming number of cases it is government - which, of course, means taxpayers - and, the hospitals - which, of course, means the business community - in the form of higher and higher and higher premiums for those who are buying and providing health insurance.

Wow. Maybe he's been reading my blogs.

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