The major issue facing our people today is the global financial crisis, which could result in many Utahns losing their jobs. To create new jobs and increase state revenues without more government expenditures, we must be resourceful. Utah needs to take initiative and be proactive for securing our future. Some of my ground-breaking solutions:
Utah needs a State Gold Reserve Fund to protect its monetary assets.
This financial strategy is the simplest and best way to offset the effects of inflation. It is not complicated, and will preserve the value of our state assets without costing us anything. This is not a wild speculation scheme. Major companies and other U.S. states are making large investments in gold as "financial insurance" to secure their assets against rising inflation and currency debasement. A few examples:
The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) launched in October 2009 its first internally managed gold fund with $250 million in assets after conducting extensive research on the benefits of holding gold in its portfolio due to low costs (News Release, TRA, 10/2/09).
"I don't think the question is what gold is worth but what are currencies not worth," said Shayne McGuire, TRS director of global research. "Consider the tremendous fiscal excess that major governments have been made to prevent the world economy from collapsing," owning gold today is "financial insurance," he further stated (www.bloomberg.com).
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, the third largest U.S. life insurer, recently purchased $400 million in gold for the first time in its 152-year history. Northwestern's Chief Executive Officer, Edward Zore, in a recent interview supporting his company's investment, stated, "Gold seems to make sense; it is a store of value...the price could double or even rise fivefold if the economy continues to weaken...The commodity has more than tripled since 2000, rising for 8 straight years ...The downside risk is limited, but the upside is large" (www.bloomberg.com).
According to Utah's latest Public Treasurers Investment Fund report, Utah is earning about ½ of 1% interest (www.utah.gov) on its approximate $400 million reserve fund account invested in CDs, Money Markets and Treasury Notes as of 9/30/2009 (PTIF News Vol. 1, Issue IV, 11/1/09). In short, Utah is unwisely tying up its financial resources in stagnant accounts.
I will introduce an amendment to state law allowing state reserve funds to be invested in gold. This will make it possible for our reserve funds to steadily grow in worth even if the dollar decreases in value. Of course, I understand that gold moves up and down, but as a hedge against inflation, it's a smart long-term investment. The more money that we are able to invest the better prepared we will be. The chances for a downside are small, but the chances for an upside are tremendous. This is one of the safest and most conservative investments we can make. In fact, gold has progressively increased 9-years straight  as evidenced in the chart below.
Utah needs a Strategic Food Reserve for the security of its people.
Over the past few years, the federal government has prudently purchased oil and placed it in a Strategic Petroleum Reserve in case of a national crisis or an oil embargo. This program is a great precautionary measure that protects the people of this country. Similarly, I want to protect the people of Utah with a Strategic Food Reserve program.
Under my plan basic life sustaining necessities will be purchased and stored in designated facilities throughout Utah. The initial goal will be to accumulate a two weeks supply for every man, woman and child in the state, which eventually will be increased to a three month supply of the essential items to sustain life. We will draw on our ability to purchase these items at low prices by our economy of scale.
A Strategic Food Reserve is also an important measure for state and homeland security (www.foodsecurity.org). If we are prepared, this program could save tens of thousand of lives. It is perhaps the most important plan we could implement as a sate for the protection of our people. For example, if a serious pandemic disease spread throughout the United States, it could become important for everyone to stay indoors for a period of time. Food would then be distributed to help supplement our families. I have already discussed with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food as well as USU Agriculture Department the costs and logistics of implementing a statewide plan, which includes specifics about existing state-owned storage facilities, distribution networks, rotation, etc. A business plan will be developed that will incorporate the latest storage and distribution technologies. Yes, this program will cost money. However, this is not simply just another social program that doesn't directly benefit the people of the entire state. This is a real security measure that not only strengthens our state, but also provides valuable assets for our people as well. If ever the need arises, our Strategic Food Reserve as a tangible state asset can be redistributed to Utah public schools and food banks or sold off to recuperate our initial investment.
I have already discussed with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food as well as USU Agriculture Department the costs and logistics of implementing a statewide plan, which includes specifics about existing state-owned storage facilities, distribution networks, rotation, etc. A business plan will be developed that will incorporate the latest storage and distribution technologies. Yes, this program will cost money. However, this is not simply just another social program that doesn't directly benefit the people of the entire state. This is a real security measure that not only strengthens our state, but also provides valuable assets for our people as well. If ever the need arises, our Strategic Food Reserve as a tangible state asset can be redistributed to Utah public schools and food banks or sold off to recuperate our initial investment.
Utah needs foreign investment to bring new jobs and income to its economy.
Utah needs to take advantage of lucrative foreign investment opportunities offered by the U.S. Immigration through Investment Act of 1990 by becoming a federally approved Regional Center. Several other states have already been approved and are enjoying the financial benefits.
Senator John Kerry, a strong supporter of the EB-5 (and EB-6) Visa programs, said, "Global competition for talent and investment grows more intense daily and the United States must step up or be left behind...Creating a new magnet for innovations and innovators to come to the United States and create jobs here will offer our economy a double shot in the arm - robust job creation at home and reaffirmation that we're the world's best place to do business" (www.senate.gov).
Basically, immigrant entrepreneurs who make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and create or preserve ten permanent full time jobs for qualified United States workers, are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) through an EB-5 Visa. In short, this federal immigration law provides a pathway to permanent residency for an immigrant investor who forms or invests in a qualified business of at least $500,000 ($1,000,000 in non-qualified states) and creates 10 permanent jobs for U.S. citizens. Just 50 such investors would bring in millions of dollars into the Utah economy and create hundreds of new jobs. (www.uscis.gov).
Utah needs to support its film industry to bring new jobs and income to the state.
More than 800 films and TV shows have been made in Utah since the 1920's. Some of the biggest films and television shows of all time have been filmed in Utah. These films and television shows have provided numerous jobs to thousands of talented people in this state throughout the years. We have incredible natural resources that no other location in the world can provide nor compare with. We even have the world's second biggest film festival-the Sundance Film Festival.
The Utah film industry is a vital and integral part of the state as well as its economy. In 2010, $27 million will come into Utah's economy for the production of John Carter of Mars, a major Hollywood production that is being filmed in Utah this year (www.denverpost.com). If Utah is to maintain its presence and influence in the very lucrative film industry, we must not only maintain our incentive fund, but also increase it. (For more information on the current fund visit film.utah.gov)
Increasing the incentive fund has many advantages. One, it brings in more jobs to the state. Two, it raises Utah's profile on a global scale. Three, it increases tourism. Four, money is spent by the out-of-state production companies financially invigorating the local economies. Five, we can insulate and groom our homegrown talent, which will in turn increase the amount of quality projects brought into the state.
To qualify for incentive funding production companies and studios will be required to hire at least 50% of Utah workers across the board excluding pre- and post-production. This means that 50% of the crew, 50% of the cast, etc. must be employed during the filming of the movie in our state. This will ensure that the jobs stay with Utahns.
Utah needs to find new ways to increase salaries of its educators.
Before I became a financial broker, I was a high school business teacher. Throughout my career, many of my clients have been teachers. Education is dear to my heart, and I believe the foundations for success begin with good education. But, how do we increase salaries without more taxation?
Reduce standardized testing that burdens our educators with paperwork and costs the state millions of dollars annually.
Invest pension funds wisely in high yield investments such as gold.
Allocate funds from new income sources such as foreign investment and alternative energy sales.
Utah needs to protect the rights of its people with ethical governance.
Legislators should not be more concerned with rewarding lobbyists and special interests than working for the common good of every day people. Across the nation voters are sick of the dishonesty, lack of transparency, and corruption that has become too much the norm.
However, passing a state ethics reform law that demands legislators to be honest will not be effective without strict supervision. Those who want to circumvent the law will still find a way. Herein lies the crux of the issue-the need for another expensive, independent government regulatory body costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands annually.
There are too many flaws in the proposed Utah Government Ethics Reform bill, which could result in lawsuits wasting millions of taxpayer dollars. Before passing into law, the legal language of the bill will need to be carefully scrutinized to identify any violations of the First Amendment, which allows the right of the people "to petition the government for a redress of grievances." This constitutional protection presupposes that people should be involved in the decisions that affect them and that advocacy for a variety of causes is a crucial part of good government decision making.
Bottom line, I will only endorse a final bill that clearly defines the rules and limits on the lobbying policies and procedures of special interest groups, which are at the core of most ethical infringements.
Utah needs to safeguard its constitutionally guaranteed state rights.
I strongly support the protection of our state's political powers in relation to the federal government as guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. We must reinforce our states rights to guard against the encroachment of federal government in our affairs.
Utah needs to keep state land free and open to its people.
I support keeping Utah wilderness clean and beautiful, but I do not support another loss of millions of acres of Utah wilderness to the federal government because of a stealth plan of the environmentalist Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) to pass through their massive Utah Wilderness bill, known as the America's Red Rock Wilderness Act. The bill, if passed, would designate 9.4 million acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Utah as Wilderness. The bottom line, over 40% of the mostly desert land that BLM manages will be restricted from the use and enjoyment of the public (www.suwa.org).
Utah needs to unconditionally support the right to bear arms.
I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. All Americans should be allowed the right to bear arms in defense of their homes and country. Any violation of the Second Amendment by the federal government is as an attack on the Constitution.
Utah recently (February 26th, 2010) signed into law a bill that would exempt Utah-made guns from federal firearms regulations. I view this as positive action in support of the Second Amendment. However, there is no system in place to regulate manufacturers, verify that the guns are indeed Utah-made, or a defined authority to enforce violations of this exemption.
While I do support this precept of this bill, it needs to be reviewed for inherent infringements on the Second Amendment.
Utah needs to keep nuclear wastes and plants off its land.
I do not support using Utah as a nuclear dumping ground or the idea of nuclear power plants in Green Valley. I will propose legislation that will thwart any future attempts to build nuclear power plants.
Campaigns are supported with donations from companies with a vested interest in profiting off polluting our beautiful state. Energy Solutions has recently attempted to dump more than the allotted amount they agreed to by diverting their trains in Texas until they can gain the opportunity to dump South Carolina's uranium waste in our state (www.tradiningmarkets.com). They have even been defiant in the matter. Energy Solutions has even declined to say whether they would honor their non-expansion agreement they had with former Governor Huntsman (Salt Lake Tribune, August 2, 2009).
I recently made phone calls to Energy Solutions to discuss the issues and concerns directly with them. I repeatedly left several messages, but to date have been ignored.
I have not received any donations from Energy Solutions or any other special interests groups. I will not support nuclear waste dumps or the manufacture of nuclear power plants in our state. If we are serious about a clean, safe Utah, then we should not be entertaining any organizations that propose to bring these hazards and their associated costs into our state.
Utah needs to develop alternative forms of energy.
Energy through wind turbines, solar panels, and other clean, efficient energy alternatives would actually be supported with federal funding and grants. Wind turbines and solar panels can also be built quickly, and can start to provide renewable energy throughout the entire state within a couple of years. Alternative energy sources also limit the amount of pollution put into Utah's environment, both short- and long-term.
Renewable energy is a logical solution to creating more energy for Utah rather than resorting to nuclear power. Also, any surplus energy can be sold to surrounding states as a new source of state jobs and income.
For those unaware of a recent agreement between Utah and Nevada that is supported by Governor Herbert, Utah government officials are planning to split Snake River Valley water 50-50 with Nevada (www.sltrib.com).
My concern is with the accuracy of the current data, which has dictated the terms of the agreement dealing with the amount of water shared between Utah and Nevada. Utah must sanction the critical 10-year abeyance provision provided by the agreement "to allow both states and the USGS to conduct further studies and data gathering in an effort to obtain more information on the Snake Valley River aquifer and the quantity of water available for appropriation without causing unreasonable adverse impacts to the aquifer, including effects on current [Utah] water rights and environmental concerns" (www.waterrights.utah.gov).
Bottom line, if Nevada starts pumping water based on inaccurate data, then Utah will have no recourse if the aquifer runs dry.