Category: In the News

State leaders announce forecast of FY 2019 revenue numbers  

Press Release
For Immediate Release
December 12, 2017

State leaders announce forecast of FY 2019 revenue numbers  

SALT LAKE CITY –  Consensus revenue figures indicate Utah’s prosperous and diverse economy is generating additional revenue for the state. The consensus revenue forecast shows a supplementary $101 million of one-time funds and $382 million in new ongoing appropriations for the upcoming FY 2019 budget. That’s an increase from the amounts available at this time last year, which were $1 million one-time and $283 million ongoing.

“Utah’s continued economic growth provides the revenues that will allow the State of Utah to make critical investments in our long-term future, including education,” said Governor Gary Herbert.

“A reliable state budget depends on a reasonable, conservative budget forecast,” said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. “These consensus figures are encouraging and good news for our economy, but we must continue to be conservative when examining the entire budget to ensure we find the correct fiscal balance.”

“This revenue and economic forecast illustrates that Utah’s economy continues to thrive,” said Speaker Greg Hughes. “While these numbers are encouraging, we must continue our measured approach as we put together the state budget that addresses critical needs of this great state. We have some of the best legislative economists in the nation and I appreciate the hours they spent working on this forecast.” 

The Office of Legislative Fiscal Analyst presented the consensus forecast on Tuesday, November 12, 2017, to the Executive Appropriations Committee. The office also presented a comprehensive review of revenue volatility and a trend analysis. It recommended using $67 million ongoing and $85 million one-time from the new revenue to pay existing obligations.

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Opioid Epidemic

 In the words of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is experiencing an opioid-induced “public health epidemic.”

In 2014, Utah ranked 4th in the nation for drug overdose deaths – an average of 6 people a week die in Utah  as a result of overdosing on prescription opioids. Last week, Speaker Greg Hughes made it clear that he would like the State of Utah to attack the opioid epidemic by litigating directly against those involved with these often harmful products. Within the last year, more than 25 states, counties and cities have filed civil suits against manufacturers, distributors and large drugstore chains. The Speaker believes that Utah can better tell its own story without joining a multi-state effort. We have unique issues and damages and will have a more impactful outcome by addressing this on our own.

For example, in 2013, the State of Utah settled a lawsuit with a large manufacturer for $8.5 million based on allegations that the drug manufacturer defrauded the state’s Medicaid program through allegedly false and misleading marketing. A multi-state collective settled the claims of 37 states and the District of Columbia for a total of $90 million. The average settlement in that effort resulted in $2.37 million per state. By going at it on our own, Utah received of three and a half times the amount of an individual state in the collective.

In 2009, the State of Utah settled a lawsuit with another large manufacturer for $24 million based on allegations that the drug manufacturer concealed its knowledge of significant side effects associated with a particular drug. A multi-state collective settled the claims of 32 states and the District of Columbia for a total of $62 million. The average settlement in that effort resulted in $1.88 million per state. By going at it on our own, Utah received nearly 13 times the amount of an individual state in the collective.

Speaker Hughes and members of the Utah Legislature will continue working on solutions address tragic epidemic.

In the News:

Doug Wright Show – Speaker Hughes wants UT to file lawsuit against Big Pharma

KSL News – Top name on Capitol Hill wants to take legal action against Utah opioid epidemic

Salt Lake Tribune: Get those dirty needles off the street

Deseret News: Trump’s announcement decrying opioid ‘public health emergency’ welcomed in Utah

Fox 13 News: Utah best state for federal opioid money, House Speaker Hughes says

Good 4 Utah: As state tackles opioid crisis, some call for legal action

Deseret News: The untold story of how Utah doctors and Big Pharma helped drive the national opioid epidemic

Op-ed: National Heatstroke Awareness Day

In the past month, two children with connections to Utah tragically died after being left alone in vehicles. A two-year-old from Idaho was left in a car in St. George for hours and in Las Vegas, a three-year-old from Fillmore was left for just an hour.

Unfortunately, this kind of tragedy happens far too often. In Utah, nine children have died from heatstroke after being left inside vehicles since 1998 to 2016. According to NoHeatStroke.org, so far, this year, 29 (updated July 31) children have died in the U.S. due to vehicular heatstroke. And since 1998, 726 children left in vehicles have died from heatstroke.

These numbers are far too high. We all say that we would never let this happen to our children, but sadly, so did many of the parents who have lost children. Many do not understand a child’s body temperature can rise as much as five times faster than an adult’s. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches around 104 degrees and death can follow in a child when this temperature reaches 107 degrees.

In 2011, the Utah State Legislature passed S.B. 124, Leaving a Child Unattended in a Motor Vehicle, which made it illegal to leave a child under the age of 9 unattended in a motor vehicle. The purpose of this law is to help raise awareness of how serious and dangerous it is to leave a young child alone in a vehicle.

As the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s National Heatstroke Awareness Day approaches on July 31, this is a reminder that we all must remain vigilant in preventing these heartbreaking deaths. There are things each of us can to do prevent these tragic occurrences. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids and Cars, National Safety Council and Safe Kids Worldwide provide tips and resources to help prevent these tragedies.

Safety tips include:

  • Never leave your child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute, even if it is parked in the shade or has open, cracked or tinted windows.
  • Always lock the vehicle’s doors, and keep the keys out of reach of children.
  • Place a stuffed animal or another toy in the child’s car seat, and when the child is placed in the seat, move the toy in front with the driver.
  • Place an item, such as a cell phone or bag, in the back seat, as a reminder.
  • Set a calendar reminder on your electronic device for daycare drop offs.
  • Have a plan in place with your childcare provider to contact you if your child does not show up for school by a certain time.
  • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a car – no matter the outside temperature.

There are also technological solutions that can ensure children are not forgotten in vehicles. Several car seat models will notify you if there is a child in the seat when the vehicle is turned off. Some vehicle manufacturers also have technology that will automatically notify you when the vehicle shuts off if the back door was opened or closed before it starts or while it’s running.

We need to stop saying “I would never do that” and start taking everyday precautions to end these preventable deaths.

Signed by:

Rep. Norm Thurston

Rep. Carl R. Albrecht

Rep. Patrice Arent

Rep. Walt Brooks

Rep. Kim Coleman

Rep Bruce Cutler

Rep. Brad Daw

Rep. Jim Dunnigan

Rep. Steve Eliason

Rep. Justin Fawson

Rep. Gage Froerer

Rep. Adam Gardiner

Rep. Craig Hall

Rep. Stephen Handy

Speaker of the House Greg Hughes

Rep. John Knotwell, Assistant Majority Whip

Rep. Cory Maloy

Rep. Kelly Miles

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss

Rep. Lee Perry

Rep. Susan Pulsipher

Rep. Tim Quinn

Rep. Paul Ray

Rep. Douglas Sagers

Rep. Scott Sandall

Rep. Lowry Snow

Rep. Robert Spendlove

Rep. Jon Stanard

Rep. Christine Watkins

Rep. John Westwood

Rep. Logan Wilde

Rep. Brad Wilson, Majority Leader

Rep. Mike Winder

 

This op-ed was originally posted by Deseret News on July 27, 2017