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Gov. Walker Concerned About Utah Economy, Despite Positive Report

Gov. Walker Concerned About Utah Economy, Despite Positive Report

Posted - Jan. 8, 2004 at 4:25 p.m.



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Richard Piatt ReportingGood news about Utah's economy: Things are looking up. But Utah's Governor isn't taking the state's annual Economic Report as an excuse to relax.

Amid a sea of graphs and charts are rays of light that contrast two dark years in Utah's economy. That's according to the presentation of the Economic Report to the Governor.

It shows job growth is up for the first time in two years. The population is growing. So is average pay, personal income, retail sales and housing prices. But Governor Walker, upon accepting the good news, isn't entirely satisfied.

Gov. Olene Walker: “We’ve got some serious problems and I realize it.”

Chief among those problems is education funding. The ongoing money problems that lead to overcrowded classrooms and lost potential will only get worse, and Governor Walker is worrying about it.

Gov. Olene Walker: “We have a real crisis regarding education in terms of numbers of students coming in. 145,000 coming in the next ten years, compared with 17,000 in the last ten years.”

But that's not all. There is also a crisis looming with the state's infrastructure; hundreds of miles of highways need upgrading and fixing, for example.

The Governor is proposing controversial steps to start fixing these problems, like taking a hard look at the state's tax system, and proposing changes to certain state subsidies. The Governor has proposed an increase in education in her budget.

Several lawmakers are promising to scrutinize her numbers in the upcoming session.

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