Quality growth should be our north star

Originally published in Utah Business.

I recently moderated a panel for the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce about growth and Utah’s technology sector. The panel included Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Sandy City Mayor Kurt Bradburn, and Envision Utah CEO Robert Grow. We discussed the opportunities and challenges posed by quality growth, particularly around the Point of the Mountain at the intersection of Salt Lake and Utah counties. I gained several insights from the ensuing dialogue.

Mayor Bradburn governs at near ground zero for Utah’s growth: the tech-intensive corridor that stretches from Sandy to Pleasant Grove. When I asked him if growth pays for itself he said, “no” without hesitation. I wasn’t surprised.

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Why Utah should be the birthplace of the fourth industrial revolution.

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Theresa Foxley leads Utah’s nonprofit economic development organization. Her association, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, works with private industry and state and local government to attract and grow high-value companies. I recently attended a meeting where Foxley heralded Utah’s potential to serve as a “cradle” for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I really like her idea.

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After graduation, find personal purpose and passion

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Graduation season is upon us. Adorned in regalia, graduates will walk the stage, collect their degrees and listen to commencement speeches. I hope graduates and their loved ones will magnify this moment by passionately finding and living their dream.

A few years ago, I met U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. She’s a former congresswoman from New Mexico and Rhodes scholar who was recently named president of the University of Texas at El Paso. Our brief encounter left a lasting impression on me.

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It’s time we combat America’s debt problem

Originally published in Utah Business

The late economist and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Charles Schultze once said: “The deficit isn’t the wolf at the door; it’s termites in the woodwork.” This clever imagery reminds us that debt won’t blow our house down, but it will eat away at its foundation. Mr. Schultze’s keen observation stands in sharp contrast to a rising chorus of opinion leaders who argue that deficits don’t matter. I beg to differ.

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Utah’s quality of life depends on transportation

Originally published in the Deseret News.

I’ve been sharing a simple statistic to illustrate the magnitude of Utah’s recent population growth. If you combine natural increase (births minus deaths) and net in-migration over the last five years, Utah has added a population larger than the population of Weber County, Utah’s fourth largest county.

It begs the question: Can we preserve Utah’s life quality and continue to sustain high levels of population growth?

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Brexit discussions shouldn’t last longer than World War II

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Analysts call Brexit the great divorce, a slow-motion car crash, a political crisis, a constitutional crisis, a wrecking ball, a mess and a delusion. Brexit is all of these and more. The uncertainty has already caused substantial economic displacement and the hurt continues. As Britain’s parliament meets this week it’s natural to ask the question, “What in the world is going on?”

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Town hall in Price shows the value of political engagement

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — commonly referred to by her initials AOC — attracts significant attention among political commentators because of her views on Medicare for all, a Green New Deal, a federal jobs guarantee, and a 70 percent tax rate on incomes over $10 million. I’m used to people talking about AOC on college campuses, but wasn’t expecting to hear about her at a town hall this week hosted by Rep. John Curtis in Price. It shows just how far the political battle grounds in this country have stretched — from a congressional district in New York to the heart of Utah’s coal country.

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Finding peace in God’s love

Originally published in the Deseret News.

“Rest in the fact of God’s love for you. Let everything that unfolds from now be in the shadow of that fact. God loves you and nothing changes that.”

I heard these words spoken by a religious scholar on a recent podcast. The scholar, who is also an ecclesiastical leader, was asked by the host how he counsels young people who are struggling. He answered the question emphatically: “I tell them nothing can get in the way of God’s love for his children.”

I found his words comforting the first time I heard them and find them comforting now. God’s love not only extends to all, it shines brightest in times of need.

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Why Utah should reform the state sales tax system

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt served during the state’s longest economic expansion. He once told me, “Decisions more than circumstances really shape our lives and our communities.” It’s a profound statement. We become our actions, not our inheritance. Utah policymakers would do well to keep this aphorism in mind as they grapple with tax reform this legislative session.

Utah faces a structural sales tax challenge. Taxable sales as a percent of the economy are shrinking, declining from 67 percent in 1980 to 42 percent today. That’s a dangerous trend even in good economic times, but in a downturn could compromise the state’s long-term prosperity and life quality.

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Utah’s coal transition belongs to all of us

Original published in the Deseret News.

Dinosaur bones, footprints, eggs and other fossils can be found throughout eastern Utah. It is a paleontologist wonderland because here, in Utah’s coal country, the last dinosaurs came to die.

Today, another kind of extinction faces residents in Utah’s coal country. If the economies in Carbon and Emery counties don’t diversify, many family supporting jobs will become extinct.

The area faces a silent recession caused by society’s actions to combat global climate change. The benefits are widespread, but the costs are concentrated in places like eastern Utah.

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Writings and Reflections