Let’s talk about the dole. Utahns in general are a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps lot, and as UtahGrassRoots.org chairman Don Guymon says, “We must rid ourselves of the entitlement mentality.” That means Medicare, Social Security and welfare, just to name a few. These are things your tax dollars are paying for, as well as things like police protection and education. Waste, waste, waste, the Tea Party patriots say. Speaking of waste, well, a limited legislative audit suggests that fugitives and prison inmates are getting some kind of public assistance—maybe millions of dollars—to which they’re not entitled. And then our Legislature spent $26,000 to make sure welfare recipients aren’t drug users, and found that mostly they’re not. At the same time, quasi-public agencies like UTA say their officials are entitled to big bonuses, while the system is in debt. Some people are entitled to your money.
Speaking of prisons, it’s not all bad news. The Utah system has finally given up on its English-only policy for speaking with visitors. Good grief, how was this even an issue in a state of returned missionaries, for whom a second language is common? And a new report shows that about 500 inmates now have high school diplomas. The Utah Office of Legislative Research & General Counsel says that means ex-cons will be 20 percent less likely to re-offend. Sounds like a good use of tax dollars, doesn’t it? But a Salt Lake Tribune letter to the editor noted, “Utah spends $6,212 a year to educate each student and $29,349 a year to incarcerate an individual.” Meanwhile, the state considers building a new prison while letting school systems tread water. It seems clear where the priorities should be.
Well, maybe it’s 50/50 good news and bad news about Utah lands, but there’s certainly been no dearth of it. SkiLink, the plan to build a gondola from Canyons Resort to Solitude Mountain Resort through Forest Service land, appears to be in a cryogenic state now that Canyons has been sold. That may tell you something about the momentum being more about a business than the public. On another note, the U.S. House OK’d money to remove those uranium tailings in Moab. As bad news for land goes, Carbon County officials are still trying to pave Nine Mile Canyon Road, and an Estonian company is trying to move forward on a controversial oil-shale-mining plan.