Don’t you just love Speaker Becky Lockhart? I know I do! She has a collaborative leadership style, welcoming input from all quarters and letting the body decide the direction they will take. She is also funny, smart and
just a tad strong-willed – all traits I admire.
Her opening day speech was delightful to me. She did not speak from the dais – rather, she spoke from the floor, as a “colleague and fellow legislator.”
She started with the type of expressions of gratitude you would expect – husband, children, parents, colleagues – even lobbyists, activists and protesters. Then she started throwing punches:
There is one group of people I exclude from my gratitude. Today I exclude Congress. A group of 535 people who have made gridlock a profession. Normally, I’m in favor of gridlock in Washington. It means less mischief that we have to deal with on a state level. But after years of meddling with the economy and amassing trillions in debt, their actions are having a direct and immediate impact on Utah.
She went after Obamacare and the enticements the feds are dangling in front of Utahns.
We have learned through sad experience over many decades that the Federal Government is never truly interested in a partnership. They give lip service to partnerships and flexibility, but over and over we are denied the promised flexibility. And now Utah’s health insurance exchange, Avenue H, faces the threat of being moved away from a free market consumer-driven vehicle to a single-payer government-issue gateway.
Let me be absolutely clear on this: there is no negotiating with the federal government on this issue. There will be no such thing as a true state and federal partnership. The federal government’s definition of a partnership is one in which they command and we obey. Usually while they’re picking our pockets. Anyone who believes otherwise is in it for the money, or deliberately ignoring history.
Speaker Lockhart then told the Representatives not to get smug, or to lay all the blame on others. “We claim and embrace the values of self-reliance, yet we are content with over 30% of our budget coming from Washington, D.C.”
I challenge you today to become problem solvers. Think outside the money box. States are supposed to be the incubators of innovation for this great country. Let’s find solutions that don’t further burden our taxpayers. Utah taxpayers are saddled with the 29th highest tax burden in the country. For a state that prides itself on low taxes and good management, that seems awfully high, don’t you think?
Then came my favorite part: A call for legislative restraint. Imagine.
It’s not only money management where we and Congress run into trouble. We emulate their draconian regulatory schemes. We far too often look for problems where none exist. Can someone here please tell me what definition of “health and public safety” hair braiding falls into? Do we really need to license more so-called professions so as to artificially limit commerce? The free market?
Amen and amen.
Looking forward to a restrained session.
Think they can do it?