House Speaker: Utah Needs to be Less Reliant Upon Federal Government

The 2013 legislative session kicked off Monday and Utah lawmakers are already discussing what the next 45 day session will look like. House Speaker Becky Lockhart helped set the tone with a speech about what Utah must do to be less reliant on the Federal Government.

Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart began her 14th year on Utah’s Capitol Hill by issuing some harsh words to the Congress and the federal government.

“Lately it’s become increasingly apparent that the action or inaction of the Federal Government profoundly influences our success," Lockhart said. "One day we’re looking at promising revenue forecasts and literally the next day we’re staring at perhaps 100-million dollars less because of a Washington D.C. deal.”

Lockhart then reminded her colleagues what that kind of money could provide for the Utahns.

“One hundred million dollars could provide a very modest tax cut for the people of Utah," Lockhart said. "One hundred million dollars could provide 1600 teachers per year. One hundred million dollars could fund drug and alcohol rehab for 28-thousand prisoners.”

The speaker then challenged lawmakers to come up with ways to become less reliant on the federal government

“I challenge you today to become problem solvers," Lockhart said. "Think outside the money box. States are supposed to be the incubators of innovation for this country. Let’s find solutions that don’t further burden the tax payers.”

When asked for a response to the Lockhart’s speech. House Minority Leader Jen Seelig said she appreciates the Speakers enthusiasm but says federal tax dollars should benefit Utahns.

“Federal dollars are our dollars as well," Seelig said. "They are not just some government entity way far way that is way far away from us. Those are our residents' tax dollars.”

This is Utah’s second most Republican Legislature in the past 80 years, Republicans hold a 61-14 majority in the House and a  24-5 majority in the Senate.