SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Gov. Spencer Cox held his final monthly press conference on Thursday, December 15, where he discussed the state’s drought conditions, the 2023 budget proposal and more.

Cox was pleased to announce that the snowpack was up to 150% more than normal. While it’s too early to tell what will happen with the weather, he said this was good news, especially with statewide reservoirs at 45%, with some critically low. 

“We’re really in the early stages of the snowpack here. The most critical months are February, March and April,” Cox said. 

These months are crucial because they can determine if we can continue positive snowpack effects. Utah has been in a drought since 2000, and the state relies heavily on snowmelt.

Also in concern of the weather, Cox pleaded for Utah drivers to slow down as the snowy weather persists.

“We’re begging you to please slow down,” Cox said. 

Gov. Cox also urged citizens to be cautious with their health. RSV is on the rise in children, and the only way to stay safe is to be careful. 

The higher rate of RSV could be because of lowered immune systems in children since during the pandemic, children weren’t exposed to the virus as much over the last few years, according to the CDC

Gov. Cox later said that the TikTok ban is vital to keeping our information safe. 

“The Chinese Communist party has direct access to the data from TikTok. That’s deeply problematic. This is part of a strategy by the Chinese Communist Party to debilitate our state,” Cox said. 

He said that the very TikTok algorithms prove to show harm. He also doesn’t anticipate other social media sites being banned. 

Later, Cox spoke of his skills-first hiring initiative for state government. He announced on Tuesday the state’s efforts to eliminate the requirement for bachelor’s degrees in its employee recruitment. He also emphasized similar support by the government and private sectors. 

“Employers have gotten lazy about using a degree for a set of skills,” Cox said. In his press release on Tuesday, he also stressed that degrees have held locked out potentially good candidates. 

In a similar vein, economists can’t remember when there have been so many available jobs, a sort of couch cushion, which could be potentially beneficial for many who have suffered during the massive tech layoffs. Cox suspects there will be many more layoffs come January. He believes the layoffs happened because more money was thrown at technology than usual with the anticipation there would be more of a payoff. However, many of those avenues have dried up quickly, causing job loss. 

Cox also spoke briefly on: 

  • How masks should be optional.
  • Having enough money for free public transit.
  • Possibly setting money aside for teachers and education.
  • Trans medical procedures. Cox said, “Are we making decisions that can be harmful in the long run?” 

“Have a very merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Shout out to the First Lady!” Cox said.