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Study lists Utah's top 10 issues



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SALT LAKE CITY -- The non-profit organization Utah Foundation released a new study of Utah's priorities, taken from a citizen survey. But the issues are already playing a part in the political season -- especially in the race for governor.

The Top 10 Issues for 2010
  1. Jobs and the economy
  2. Government Spending
  3. Kindergarten through 12th grade education
  4. Healthcare
  5. The ethics of elected officials
  6. Taxes
  7. Energy issues, including utilities and gasoline prices
  8. States' rights versus the federal government
  9. Environmental issues, including air quality and pollution
  10. Immigration
-Utah Foundation

The survey listed the top 10 issues for 2010, in order of priority. People say they're worried about jobs and the economy; government spending, public education, health care, ethics, taxes and energy issues. State's rights, the environment and immigration round out that top 10.

Now the question is what to do about dealing with those issues.

The Utah Foundation's list of priorities comes as the campaign season is starting to heat up. That's no accident, according to the Foundation's Steve Kroes: "We hope that it sets the dialogue, the discussion about these policy issues so that solutions start coming out from this."

Is Utah's Quality of Life Better than Five Years Ago?

20082010
Much better7%3%
Somewhat better30%13%
About the same37%37%
Somewhat worse17%41%
Much worse5%4%
Utah Foundation

It's also no accident that the two main candidates for governor were front and center at the presentation of the study: Republican Gary Herbert and Democrat Peter Corroon are already working to convince voters they have the best plan.

They've got a lot of work to do, too. The survey shows voters are losing confidence in Utah's quality of life: 45 percent say their quality of life isn't what it was five years ago. Only 22 percent felt that way in 2008.

People are also losing faith the state is heading in the right direction: 36 percent say the state's on the wrong track this year. Just 20 percent said that two years ago.

On the campaign trail, both Herbert and Corroon are listing the same priorities: aggressive economic development, efficient government, more money for education.

But both say they differ about the ways to achieve those goals.

Preferences for Spending on Major Programs

Program2010 mean score
K-12 public education3.96
Law enforcement and prisons3.40
Healthcare3.33
Colleges and universities3.32
Transportation and roads3.19
Assistance to low-income people2.99
Overall state spending2.72
Utah Foundation

"Over the years, we've seen a lot of talk about education and the economy and different things, and we haven't seen a lot of results," Corroon said. "So as someone who's run the second-largest government in Utah, I can bring that more balanced approach."

"I want to grow the economy, and that means holding the line on taxes and empowering the private sector," Herbert said. "The Democrats might want to grow the economy by taxing and redistribution of wealth and putting it other places."

KSL TV and radio and the Deseret News are partners with the Utah Foundation in using this poll and more in the months to come to find out what Utahns want candidates to discuss this election year.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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Richard Piatt

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