Reaching for Educational Equity: An Evaluation of Utah’s Rural Schools

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

The vast majority of Utah is rural, though only a small portion of Utahns live and work in rural parts of the state. Rural schools educate about 15% of Utah’s students, spread over a wide and varied geography. Utah’s rural educators – concerned about the challenges facing their schools – requested that Utah Foundation analyze educational inputs and outputs to determine whether students in these areas are receiving opportunities for success comparable to non-rural students.



The Affordable Care Act: Placing Healthcare Reform in a Historical and Comparative Context

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

Healthcare has been an important issue for Utah voters throughout the past decade, but the 2012 Utah Priorities Survey revealed they are now more concerned with it.  In the 2012 survey, 69% of respondents indicated that they were concerned or very concerned with healthcare, making it the fourth most important issue to voters in this election year. Healthcare is not only an important issue to voters, but a divisive one as well.  The Utah Priorities … Continued



Utah Priorities 2012, Issue #1: Jobs & the Economy

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

In 2012, voters listed jobs and the economy as the most important priority in the election year.  This brief explains that while Utah’s job growth was stronger than the nation’s before and after the Great Recession, job losses were worse than the national average during the recession. Utah’s unemployment rate peaked at 8.3% in 2010, but stayed well below the national average throughout the recession. Within Utah, the young and those with lower levels of … Continued



Utah Priorities 2012, Issue #2: K-12 Education

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

In 2012, voters listed K-12 education as the 2nd most important priority in the election year. Utah voters have ranked K-12 education as one of their top three concerns in each of the Utah Priorities Project surveys dating back to 2004. Voters list the top three issues within K-12 education as funding, student preparation for college and career, and teacher quality. This report addresses those funding challenges, as well as recent budgetary and policy developments. … Continued



Utah Priorities 2012, Issue #3: Energy Issues

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

In 2012, voters listed energy as the 3rd most important priority in the election year. This brief explains how Utahns heat and cool their homes and businesses, and addresses the status of exploration for traditional and renewable energy within the state. It also explains that the concern with energy was mainly due to the cost of gasoline, despite the fact that Utah has the lowest residential energy prices in the country. Interestingly, the concern with … Continued



Utah Priorities 2012, Issue #4: Healthcare

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

In 2012, voters listed healthcare as the 4th most important priority in the election year. This brief explains that healthcare is not just an important issue to voters, but a divisive one as well. One of the most polarizing issues within healthcare is the Affordable Care Act. This brief explains some of the major components of the ACA, when those policies will be implemented, and how they will be funded. It also compares the American … Continued



Utah Priorities 2012, Issue #5: Taxes & Government Spending

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

In 2012, voters listed higher taxes and government spending as the 5th most important priority in the election year. This policy brief explains that while Utah has historically had a high burden of taxes and fees, its burden has actually fallen below the national average in recent years. This is largely due to major reductions in Utah’s income and sales taxes in 2006 and 2007. These changes, as well as the Great Recession, had significant … Continued



Utah Priorities 2012, Issue #6: Higher Education

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

In 2012, voters listed higher education as the 6th most important priority in the election year. This policy brief addresses the increase in enrollment in Utah’s colleges and universities, the decrease in state funding for higher education, and the increase in tuition throughout USHE institutions. It also discusses the issue of student loan debt, which is currently at a record high in the U.S. Finally, it examines the goal that by 2020, 66% of Utah’s … Continued



Utah Priorities 2012, Issue #7: Environmental Issues

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

In 2012, voters listed environmental issues as the 7th most important priority in the election year. This brief reviews how Utah cities and counties compare to the rest of the nation in terms of air quality, as well as the future of regulating greenhouse gases as an air pollutant. It finds that the state as a whole is compliant with most EPA required air pollution measures, but struggles with short-term ozone and particulate matter levels, … Continued



Utah Priorities 2012, Issue #8: Partisan Politics

Written by: Stephen Hershey Kroes

In 2012, voters listed partisan politics as the 8th most important priority in the election year. This policy brief discusses party polarization over time at the national level, and party dominance at the state level. It also examines Utah’s declining voter turnout rates, and explores various explanations for this trend.