The July 21 opinion column by Brad Wilson, speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, on the “Utah Way” truly tells it like it is, but perhaps in ways the author hadn’t intended.
It should be noted that Wilson, as a homebuilder, is well-qualified to represent the aspirations and attitudes of the Utah Legislature, as more than 70% of the members of the Utah Legislature depend upon real estate related activities for their livelihood.
Wilson’s article points out some very good news for him and his fellow legislators in the real estate business: “People are flocking to our state today.” And, “Utah is the fastest-growing state in the nation.”
According to the article, Wilson and other policy-makers should get much of the credit, although he acknowledges that Utah’s natural beauty, quality of life and sense of community are also attractions. The article feels like a Chamber of Commerce welcoming letter or a marketing brochure for a new housing development.
Unfortunately, Wilson fails to mention or address the many challenges that Utah, the nation and the world are facing today. Somehow, the Utah Way policy-making process of which Wilson writes so favorably has failed to address our air pollution problems, our rising temperatures, the debilitating drought and accompanying threat to our water supplies, the environmental degradation and the congestion brought about by our unsurpassed growth. All of which threaten our health, safety and quality of life, and are directly related to carbon-based climate change, which perilously endangers our long-term existence.
Fortunately, Wilson and the Utah Legislature have been able to ignore these minor annoyances and concentrate on what matters most to them. When the Utah Legislature isn’t obsessed with it’s anti-public lands and “message” bills, the focus is on supporting and promoting mega-construction projects.
Examples are the Lake Powell pipeline, moving the state prison, the inland port and now a gondola in the Little Cottonwood Canyon. These are all unpopular, huge tax-payer funded projects designed to help businesses, encourage more spending and promote growth. Our Utah Way legislative long-term priorities are to promote population and economic growth, which generates real estate profits.
In order to change legislative priorities and achieve Wilson’s declaration, “that public policy is about getting it right for the people,” we need to vote for and elect a different type of Utah legislator — one whose primary purpose isn’t promoting and feathering one’s own nest. Then, perhaps, “The Utah Way” will be something to celebrate on Pioneer Day.
Footnote: Brad Wilson’s “Professional Life” as set forth in the utah.gov House website “Brad Wilson is the President and CEO of Destination Homes, a residential homebuilder in Utah, and leader in community and home design with high customer loyalty.”
Chad Mullins, Salt Lake City, is a retired president of a Utah-based financial institution.