CEDAR CITY — Aimee Winder Newton visited the Cedar City Library last week for a meet-and-greet with local residents.
Considering the referendum effort underway throughout the state regarding a tax reform bill, Newton stated a few of her concerns with the bill.
“My big issue is the process,” Newton told St. George News. “We had last session, the legislature came out with this bill, less than two weeks before the end of the session, behind closed doors, and all these new taxes on services and nobody really got to weigh in at that point and I think that they lost the trust of the people.”
Newton said she feels that the sales tax on food within the bill is the wrong approach, and she is also concerned about taxes on services within the bill.
“The taxes on services that were finally decided upon, instead of having a principled way to figure out who’s going to get charged taxes on services, it almost felt like they threw out a bunch and then those who had the best lobbyists got taken off the list,” Newton said.
Newton cited water, economic development and jobs as some of the biggest issues facing Southern Utah. She said moving forward with the Lake Powell Pipeline, looking into Broadband in order to allow residents to telecommute and to attract companies to the area, and supporting entrepreneurship are solutions to those concerns that should be focused on.
“That’s such a big key for a lot of the companies is to have good broadband,” she said. “That’s something that I think we need to look at as well as entrepreneurship programs. A lot of kids who want to stay in rural Utah but don’t have a job, if we can teach them how to start their own businesses and be able to thrive that’s a great way to go. As far as bringing in higher-paying jobs, one of the things that I think we need to look at closely as a state, and I think is statewide not just Southern Utah, is how to strengthen our workforce.”
When considering how to strengthen Utah’s workforce, Newton wants to look at multiple educational and career paths.
“A four-year degree isn’t necessarily what every kid needs,” she said. “Sometimes kids need to go to a (technical) college, sometimes maybe a trade school and learn how to be a plumber or electrician or other things; there’s certificate programs out there for coding and computer tech and those are valuable.”
Newton added that she feels suited for the job of governor due to her background in local and regional government.
“I’ve had 25 years of experience in city and county government,” she said. “I’ve also been involved in our school district. … I spent eight years as a planning commissioner for a city, I also helped a city incorporate and become a city, and as part of that we had to figure out ‘What does our long-term master plan look like?’ My experience in that local government, where that’s really where we’re going to be able to address our growth issues, I think is key.”
Newton added that she plans to support Southern Utah communities in managing growth by reimplementing the planning component to the Governor’s Office of Management Budget in order to supply local governments with the necessary information and tools.
“What I want to do is be able to have that to utilize for our local governments,” she said. “So that as they’re making decisions they have a source to go to get all of the data, to get all of the information, good planning practices to help them. I’m a big proponent of local control, I think that we push those decisions down to the most local level, the state’s got to stop having unfunded mandates and trying to dictate to everybody what to do. We have to let that happen in local governments, those are the people who know their communities better than we do.”
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