Utahns think their quality of life is getting worse. Here’s what they said.

Housing affordability is a likely culprit, one lawmaker said.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Locomotives are pictured with the Salt Lake City skyline on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.

Some Utah voters think their state is on the wrong track.

That’s according to a new report from the Utah Foundation. Researchers surveyed 656 voter registered Utah voters. Only 42% of respondents thought the state was “headed in the right direction.” That’s a sharp decrease from the past 20 years of survey results.

What’s to blame?

“I think a lot of it goes back to that top issue of housing affordability, and those big issues of overall affordability,” said Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, at a news conference Tuesday. “People just don’t feel like they have the opportunities that they’ve had in the past.”

Housing affordability, political dysfunction and the environment are top concerns, according to the report.

(Utah Foundation) In a new report the Utah Foundation surveyed registered voters to determine their top priorities.

“If you look at the ratio of home prices to median household income it should be about three to one,” Spendlove said, “right now in Utah it’s six to one.”

“The solution is to build more homes,” Spendlove continued. But building permit activity dropped by about 15,000 a year, he said. “It’s really tough to find solutions to this housing affordability issue.”

Other important issues included having enough water, K-12 grade education and air quality.

The Utah Foundation determined voters’ top priorities by first providing an open-ended two-question survey and then selecting the most frequent topics for a second survey. Voters were then asked to rank the issues.

The researchers also asked about respondents’ quality of life. The majority said their lives were worse than they were five years ago.

“One of the things that’s always been unique about Utah is people always felt better about our state than the nation,” Spendlove said. “There is this growing disenfranchisement politically and with the economy.”

There were some differences in priorities along party lines. For Democrats, women’s rights and the Great Salt Lake were top issues, while for Republicans crime and roads were priorities.

“I was surprised to see women’s rights at the very top of the list,” said Utah Foundation president Shawn Teigen, “particularly when you don’t see it on the top 10 list for the overarching priorities project.”

After the pandemic, health care and public health were extremely important to voters but didn’t make the top 12 priorities this year.