Op-ed: Utah’s economy could benefit from focusing on climate issues

Written by: Peter Reichard

Record heat and the drought this summer are putting the issue of climate change on Utahns’ minds. While a run of unfavorable weather measured in weeks or months does not in itself equate to climate change, it does invite us to pay more attention to the issue. The causes and effects of climate change, as well as the proper responses, remain matters for some degree of debate. And those debates, by the way, are worth … Continued

Op-Ed: Dry times in Utah highlight importance of long-term water management

Written by: Peter Reichard

It’s when your throat is parched and you’ve been baking in the hot sun that you most appreciate a glass of cool, clear water. We appear to be in such a moment at a statewide level. As of May 1, the 2020-21 winter snowpack in most of the state’s measured basins was well below median, and in some cases less than half of the median level. While one bad year may not plunge the whole … Continued

Op-Ed: Addressing the cost of health care is Utahns’ top priority – and a big-time challenge

Written by: Peter Reichard

A little over two decades ago, I learned how lucrative the pharmaceutical industry could be. The father of a friend of mine, who was nearing retirement after a career with a drug company, was discussing how nice their recent company picnic had been. He went on to mention that they brought in a well-known band to play the event. The band? U2. At a company picnic. That’s what giant profit margins can do for you. … Continued

Op-Ed: Rising housing costs and rising concerns in Utah

Written by: Peter Reichard

Concerns about housing affordability in Utah have become acute, to say the least. In Utah Foundation surveys dating back to 2008, housing affordability had never been a top-10 issue. That changed in 2020. In an initial Utah Priorities survey before the economic shutdown, we found that housing affordability had surged to become the second most important issue. In a new survey several months later, it remained in the top 10, even after the pandemic crisis … Continued

Op-Ed: Why should we care about educational attainment?

Written by: Peter Reichard

Post-secondary educational attainment matters a lot. For years, Utah Foundation has been uncovering data on challenges and successes that connect directly to post-secondary educational attainment. In fact, attainment matters so much to us that we just launched a series on the topic with a report that examines strategies that can be deployed to help boost attainment levels. What is educational attainment? In general, it is the highest level of education that a person or population … Continued

Op-Ed: Has Utah found a better way to pay for roads?

Written by: Peter Reichard

About 8,000 years ago, somebody in what is now Iraq came up with the idea of taxing the public for services and infrastructure. In addition to funding armies, taxation in the ancient world went heavily toward building roads. Whether it was property taxes or some other exaction, few were particularly pleased. Tax collectors were despised in the ancient world. After these millennia, is it possible that Utah has figured out the best way for the … Continued

Op-Ed: Can the telework revolution improve traffic and air quality in Utah?

Written by: Peter Reichard

Every couple of decades, the trajectory of modern history pivots on game-changing innovations: the rise of trains, planes and automobiles; the invention of the light bulb; the birth of television; the emergence of the PC; the dawn of the internet. We are due for another pivot, and it may have arrived in the form of a remote revolution. With the lockdowns of 2020, the worldwide embrace of telehealth, e-commerce, telemeetings, online education and telework suddenly … Continued

Op ed: Development tax breaks need oversight

Written by: Peter Reichard

It looked like a stroke of genius. Back in the 1950s, California officials, looking to fund economic development projects under tight budget constraints, created a mechanism known as tax increment financing, or TIF. The idea was to pledge new (or incremental) tax revenue generated from a project to make the project itself possible. It would be a clean win for the public, because the only money to be spent would be money that would not … Continued

Op-ed: Follow the facts, not the drama, and focus on Utah

Written by: Peter Reichard

Back when I attended journalism school in the early 1990s, we were frequently exhorted to “find the drama” in whatever we were covering. Drama sold papers, and if you wanted your precious byline on the exalted front page, you needed to write stories that elevated conflict and emotion. Even in my youthful ambition, I felt vaguely uneasy with this approach, seeing at times that journalists were exploiting their subjects, their audience or both. Cloaking the … Continued

Op-ed: Getting clear on what the income tax amendment does and doesn’t do

Written by: Peter Reichard

There are a number of constitutional amendments on the ballot confronting Utah voters this November. The Utah Foundation provided summaries and brief analyses of each in its recent report On the Ballot: Constitutional Amendments Nov. 3, 2020. But by far the most controversial item is Amendment G, which expands the potential uses of income tax revenue. Currently, Utah’s income taxes are dedicated to public and higher education alone. The amendment would broaden the named uses. … Continued