Small Government, Big Solutions

Small Government, Big Solutions
I’m not a fan of big government. Many of the programs our federal government churns out become absolute disasters. I believe if you can find private industry providing something, government should stay out of the business. But there a few things only government can do. In the case of the federal government, these would include constitutionally mandated things like defense, securing our borders, and fiscal policy. Our state has specific limited responsibilities as well, of which, education and transportation are two of the most vital ones.As I get back into session, I have the rare opportunity to innovate in both of these fields. I’ve served on educational committees for most of my years as a state representative, and I currently serve as President of the Utah Transit Authority.My preschool for disadvantaged children bill (HB 96) passed the House this week, and now moves to the Senate for their consideration. Over the years I’ve worked to secure merit pay for outstanding teachers, special funding for STEM programs, and adaptive standardized testing for kids.

While serving with the UTA, we’ve brought TRAX to Draper, FrontRunner was born, and I helped implement the Draper Transit Oriented Development –which will one day be the crown jewel of commerce in the center of the 90-mile FrontRunner line.

I have learned that commerce moves at the speed of our transportation options. Just like the state has the responsibility to provide good roads, it has the obligation to provide mass transit options. It’s much less expensive to buy up rail corridor now, than to wait until more build-out along the Wasatch Front occurs. In the next decade, as our urban population doubles, mass transit will become more and more vital to all of us. People who can take the train will benefit, but so will those who are on the roads –which will be less crowded because of the trains.

Another issue as we face due to growth, is air quality. Both Salt Lake and Utah Counties enjoy the beauty of our surrounding mountains. But this creates a functional “bowl” which traps air pollution and contributes to some of the worst inversions in the nation. I sponsored a bill last session (which became law) allowing political subdivisions like city, county, and state governmental agencies to develop shared infrastructure for compressed natural gas usage. The public will also be able to buy CNG at some of these fueling stations. 60% of air pollution in Salt Lake County is from tailpipe emissions. CNG burns far cleaner and is a cheaper alternative to gasoline, so its use improves air quality and makes good sense from an economic standpoint as well.

Innovation means change, and change can be difficult. But my full time job as a business owner has taught me that change is vital for the growth of any worthwhile venture. Utah has tremendous opportunities ahead. I’m working very hard to make sure we can make the most of all of them.

Greg Hughes
Utah State House of Representatives,

District 51