Education. Need I say more? Despite being the No. 3 issue on Utahns' minds, it's typically one of the last to get traction. A group called Our Schools Now is stumping on the legislative preview circuit for an income tax increase to help fund education. But Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and maybe the Legislature in general seem to think this will open the gateway to hell. Studies such as one from Northwestern University underline the importance of small class sizes, but that takes money, too. Rep. Carol Spackman Moss says she'd like to hear the "dozens" of ideas for funding education. Maybe the gas tax, and, oh, if only they could get their hands on federal lands. But for now, the boy wonders of business from Our Schools Now aim at an initiative on the income tax. Well, you know what the Legislature thinks of initiatives. So, round and round we go.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski came out fighting for the city's right to manage its precious water resources. In a Deseret News op-ed with Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, she alluded to the problems in Flint, Mich., as reason to retain stewardship over the waters from the Central Wasatch Mountains. "A small group of developers is working to change state law that empowers all Utah cities, including ours, to protect water sources from pollution," she said. Development is always a driving force in Utah, and companies are already looking at ramping up mountain zip lines, building and hiking. Is it a good idea to fix something that's not broken? She and Dolan go through the history, which itself is startling. Clean water—it's at risk.
No doubt, a lot of powerbrokers are unhappy with Peter Metcalf right now. The founder of Black Diamond Equipment had the audacity to say that the world's largest outdoor retail show should look for a host somewhere else. And he did this on opening day of the show—ouch! Metcalf was referring to what he called an assault of public lands. Despite all the equivocating, the state of Utah is pursuing lawsuits to gain control of federal lands and to sue the government for the new Bears Ears monument. In a Salt Lake Tribune editorial, Metcalf called Utah "ground zero for the worst public lands policies." He and other outdoor companies have threatened to leave Utah before, but Gov. Gary Herbert has managed to assuage their fears—until now. It's a whole new world with the incoming administration of @realDonaldTrump, which might help wrest the lands from the public. And the Outdoor Retailers will be finding a new home.