Monthly Archives: January 2017

School Financing Should Focus on Struggling Students

Should we raise taxes to provide more money for our public school system? Utah has one of the lowest per pupil spending rates in the nation, if not the lowest at times, and yet we seem to do pretty well with what we have. In fact, we seem to do rather exceptionally with what resources we invest. Our per-pupil spending might be low but the overall investment in education is the largest part of our state budget, by far.

But would more money make a difference? The backers of the new funding initiative, Our Schools Now, say more money would make a huge difference and have proposed an increase to the state income tax – in Utah, all income tax goes to education. The Our Schools Now plan “calls for a 7/8 of 1 percent (.008) increase to the personal income tax, which [they predict] would total $750 million; [it would] provide each Utah school with roughly $1000 [more] per enrolled student; and, [it would] require all funding to be spent in ways that increase student learning.” read more

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Obamacare will not be repealed

Just over 30 years ago, 36 insurance companies stopped writing policies in Washington, D.C. The issue was AIDS and the D.C. City Council voted to prohibit HIV testing of insurance applicants. At the time, insurance companies testing for the AIDS virus were deemed discriminatory to homosexuals. The three-dozen insurance companies argued that to not screen for the disease was not only bad business practice but defeated the whole idea of the insurance market.

Insurance is all about managing risk. Actuaries are paid a lot of money to determine risk and decide whether or not an applicant should be covered. The insured pay premiums to the insurance company based on their health status. For every negative health factor premiums are increased. If you smoke, you’ll pay higher insurance premiums than a non-smoker. This is why those insurance companies quit writing policies in Washington, D.C. 30 years ago when they were prohibited from testing for HIV. When an insurance company cannot manage its risk, it quits being an insurance company. read more

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The Necessary Conservative Pivot

What represents American culture today is dramatically different than the American culture of my childhood. Of course things change over time. Styles, music, art, technologies are all subject to change at any given moment. But I’m speaking of fundamental changes to American culture – the kind of changes that alter our future.

One fundamental change to American culture began in 1967 when no-fault divorce was first enacted. About that same time, the War on Poverty fundamentally affected family formation in many poor communities. Contraception and abortion decisions by the United State Supreme Court fundamentally changed most ideas about human dignity and sexuality. And the recent redefinition of marriage already has changed the worldview of many younger Americans. read more

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The coming challenges of intergenerational poverty

A lot of time and effort have been and are being spent on addressing intergenerational poverty (IGP) in Utah. A lot of money soon could follow. But before that happens, many systemic barriers, political and programmatic, must disappear.

The good news for the Utah Legislature is that a focus on IGP children now will save taxpayers dollars down the road. Situational poverty will be with us always. But intergenerational poverty is a culture; it is learned. It is in control of the human spirit. We can break this cycle if we put our minds and resources to it. It can all but disappear in a generation. That reality will save millions of dollars over time. More important, it will give hope to the hopeless and literally save lives. read more

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All Ideologues Sing the Same Tune

My disdain for Donald Trump is no secret. That Utah gave Trump his lowest vote count among red states was a proud moment for me. And, as a Latter-day Saint, I was very pleased to see so many of us vote for someone else. While many establishment Latter-day Saints are slowly, if not begrudgingly, looking on the bright side of a Trump presidency, I’m not one of them. None of my critical views about Donald Trump have changed. But, recently, I’ve been forced to reflect on the extent of my disdain and these reflections cut deeply about the meaning of my conservatism. read more

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