Gov. Cox updates 'One Utah Roadmap' outline for future. Here's what's new

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a news conference March 18. The Utah Governor's Office on Wednesday published an updated version of Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson's goals for the state's near future.

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a news conference March 18. The Utah Governor's Office on Wednesday published an updated version of Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson's goals for the state's near future. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Governor's Office on Wednesday released an updated version of its "One Utah Roadmap," a document that details the top goals of Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson for the "next 250 days and beyond."

The document, first released in the first few weeks after Cox and Henderson took office, covers economic advancement, education innovation and investment, rural matters, health security, equality and opportunity, as well as state government efficiency.

With the update Wednesday, Cox said he and his office have accomplished some of the early goals. Per the updated document, those changes are:

  • Talent development: Analyze trends and needs of gig/flex workers; encourage and enable more flexible and inclusive workplaces; and connect displaced workers with training and jobs.
  • Fiscal responsibility: Repeal Social Security tax for lower-income earners and continue to build up rainy day funds to $1 billion.
  • Funding and equity: Keep funding the Teacher and Student Success Account to invest in further education improvements.
  • Early learning: Expand access to optional extended-day kindergarten.
  • Economic growth and diversification: Support local control of local transient room tax revenue; evolve rural tourism marketing and promotion to advance quality-of-life recruitment and improve rural Utah's economic diversity; support aggressive high-speed broadband deployment to rural Utah, evaluate and identify funding increases and expansion opportunities in rural investment programs that support remote work and entrepreneurialism.
  • Public lands: Enhance the Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office to improve coordination on public land priorities and develop a One Utah Public Lands coordinating council that oversees and manages all aspects of Utah's public lands utilization and stewardship.
  • Combating COVID-19: Execute without delay a vaccine strategy using aggressive approaches influencing all stakeholders and practitioners; hire and train more community health workers, develop improved testing and messaging strategy to combat community hot spots and outbreaks in K-12 schools, higher education, and vulnerable populations; develop policy including emergency health response, public policy, immunization strategies, personal protective equipment supplies, and future stockpiling needs; and develop a collaborative council to foster relations, build trust, and develop policy between Utah Department of Health, local health districts, counties, and stakeholders within the health care industry.
  • Miscellaneous: Hire the state's first equity and inclusion accelerator.
  • Structure: Assess and deploy department- and division-level organizational structure refinements; require each department and agency to prepare an action plan to improve efficiency, productivity and customer service; analyze the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget for structure and responsibilities; reexamine government operations in the context of widespread remote work.
  • State workforce: Survey state workers regularly to assess job satisfaction and obtain suggestions for greater efficiency and quality, and embrace remote work and other practices to decrease environmental impact, increase productivity, and create job opportunities for Utahns across the state.
  • Innovation: Designate a chief innovation officer to help modernize state government and serve as a liaison between the state and innovation community.

"It's great to see so much progress in such a short time, but our work is far from finished," Cox said, in a statement Wednesday. "Roadmap Version 2 will keep us moving forward in ways that are both ambitious and accountable. As leaders, we'll continue to think big and innovate for the benefit of all Utahns."

What's new?

The updated document includes updates in economic advancement, education, rural issues, health security, equity/opportunity and government efficiency.

For instance, one update centers around efforts to "broaden access" to various Utah boards and commissions for underrepresented people, such as women, people of color and people within the LGBTQ community. It also calls on improvements to gender pay equity, family-friendly and inclusive policies and cultural change.

"We recognize the unique inequities and varied experiences found within Black, Indigenous, Latino/x, Asian, Middle Eastern, Pacific Islander and multiracial communities. We commit to creating initiatives that acknowledge the history of our state and nation, the disproportionate outcomes across systems and the intersectional identities of our community members," the document states.

Utah State University's Utah Women and Leadership Project reported earlier this month that Utah's gender pay gap is the fifth-largest in the nation. Their report found that Utah women made just 70% of what Utah men make compared to the national gap average of 82%. They added the gap disproportionately affects single mothers and women of color.

Another update calls for enhancements for water conservation and improvements to internal Utah food supply chains.

This comes after a severe drought that only worsened in Cox and Henderson's first year in office. The governor declared a state of emergency back in March when it became clear that Utah's reservoirs wouldn't be as full as they normally are. The statewide system finished the 2021 water year, which ended Sept. 30, at just 47% capacity. Over a dozen reservoirs, especially ones in rural areas, remain at under 20% capacity.

One of the new goals states: "Establish a statewide water cooperative action plan that prioritizes conservation, storage, agriculture preservation and use optimization."

Also included:

  • Economic advancement: Refocus state investment on vocational and technical training, restructure state business incentives to line up with strategic economic objectives and advocate for both the public sector and private sector to pursue clean energy development and low-emission vehicle fleets.
  • Education: Push to address funding disparities between school districts and continue to work toward clarifying roles in education governance.
  • Health security: Work on ways to improve the transparency of health care costs.
  • State government efficiency: Find ways to make government more responsive, accessible and accountable through an improved customer experience online as well as performance management tools.

The original document intended on making changes by Cox and Henderson's 500th day in office, which will be May 19, 2022; however, all indications are there will be more updates beyond that date. Residents are called on to submit ideas for changes through

"Reviewing, refreshing and reorienting priorities is vital to ensuring meaningful progress is being achieved," the document added.

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