Income Inequality Less of a Problem in Utah

Originally published in Utah Business.

“Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”

That classic line was made famous by Barry Switzer, the well-known Oklahoma football coach who was raised poor and went on to win a college football championship and the Super Bowl. And while I don’t hold him up as a role model, his famous quote about inequality and hubris hit a chord with me. We are all born into different economic circumstances and income inequality is a problem.

Continue reading Income Inequality Less of a Problem in Utah

Who are the real heroes of election reform?

Originally published in the Deseret News.

This week, the Utah Legislature passed landmark legislation that will improve and modernize Utah’s election system. The compromise negotiated by Sen. Curt Bramble and Rep. Dan McCay preserves Utah’s caucus-convention system, institutes a direct primary option, and opens primaries to non-affiliated voters. The result is an election system that will be far more open and expand choices for candidates and voters. The legislation will do much to improve Utah’s abysmal voter participation, which has fallen to one of the bottom 10 states in the nation.

So who are the real heroes in this principled compromise?

Continue reading Who are the real heroes of election reform?

Going to Pot

Originally published in Utah Business.

I read with interest New York Times writer David Brooks’ recent column on the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado. In typical Brooks fashion, he “smoked” the issue by pointing out that legalizing weed makes it “a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.”

I agree, and it got me thinking about the economic development advantage Utah will now have over Colorado because of its recent actions. The legalization of marijuana will make it harder for the Centennial State to be the kind of state it wants to be.

Continue reading Going to Pot

Both Sides of the Aisle

Once a week I spend time in the KCPW radio studio debating the issues with State Senator Jim Dabakis and State Representative Greg Hughes. It’s a lot of fun and I always learn something when I interact with these two great guys. I represent the political center and fend off the extreme positions of my two colleagues. Give it a listen and see what you think:

Episode 18: February 13th

A consensus on moving the prison, the Pre-K bill, and a blockade formed by LGBT protesters.

Time to raise Utah’s motor fuel tax

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.

This quip, made by Louisiana Sen. Russell Long, captures Utah’s approach to the motor fuel tax. We’ve been kicking the can down the road for 17 years. It’s time for a serious and informed discussion about raising Utah’s motor fuel tax to make up for lost purchasing power and improved fuel efficiency.

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Fast and Furious: Utah’s economy is ready to rock in 2014

Originally published in Utah Business.

I love the start of a new year. It’s a time to begin anew and take a fresh look at life. I find it’s also agood time to take a pause, learn from the past and build a better tomorrow.

The Utah Legislature understands the value of this type of introspection and long-term thinking. Last month they took time out of their busy schedules to attend a Legislative Policy Summit hosted by the David Eccles School of Business. It was my job to brief them on Utah’s current economic positioning. Here’s what I told them: Continue reading Fast and Furious: Utah’s economy is ready to rock in 2014

Starting 2014 out right

2014 is here and I love it. It’s a chance to begin anew, start fresh and adopt new found optimism. One of the new things I’m going to do is post my writings and reflections on this website. Each month I write a column for the Deseret News and Utah Business magazine. I also participate in a weekly radio program on Salt Lake City’s KCPW radio station. For those who are interested I will post links from this website. You can also follow me on Twitter at @gochnour. Thanks for your interest.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s budget hits the mark

Originally published in the Deseret News.

This week Gov. Gary Herbert released his fiscal year 2015 budget. He recommended $13.3 billion in spending – a cool $36 million a day to pay for Utah’s education system, transportation network, human services, public safety and other important public functions. I worked in the state budget office for 18 years, and I think the governor got it right. Here’s my take on state finances:

Continue reading Gov. Gary Herbert’s budget hits the mark

Writings and Reflections