Every Thursday, GMU asks you. You leave us questions, and now It’s time to Ask the Authority. We were lucky enough to meet with Lt. Governor Spencer Cox on Tuesday, February 13. Today, we aired the informative interview on GMU.
Question: During the last few weeks, we have been introduced to success stories from Operation Rio Grande. Update us on the efforts and reflect the progress the program has already garnered.
Cox: It’s been 6 months and there’s a lot to celebrate, but there’s also still a lot of work to do. We have been celebrating some of those successes, and that’s the best part of all of this – the people that are getting help, they’re getting back on their feet and overcoming drug addictions and getting into homes. Those are the success stories we like to see. So where we go from here? We’re still trying to add treatment beds. That’s the biggest bottleneck we have right now for people struggling with addiction who need treatment. So we’re moving forward there. And very soon we’ll start construction on the new homeless resource centers. Three of them across the valley! Which will help people get back on their feet, and that’s critical.
Question: So we are right in the middle of another Utah legislative session. What is your role as Utah’s lawmakers work on our state’s future?
Cox: So, by statute, I am the chief liaison for the Governor in the legislature. What that means is.. if the Governor doesn’t like a bill – he doesn’t like to veto any bills. He likes to work with people and collaborate and come to some sort of agreement, so my job is to knock on their door, and together with the Governor’s general counsel, say, “Hey! The Governor doesn’t love your bill, but doesn’t want to veto it.. let’s see if we can work together.” So, there’s a lot of negotiating and a lot of trying to improve what’s happening up there. It’s part of the process. And if there’s a bill we really like, our job is to go and convince other legislatures to vote for it.
Question: Now what do you think are the biggest issues lawmakers are debating right now?
Cox: Well, there are so many. They’ll pass almost 500 bills. But if I had to name a couple, education funding is going to be very big this year. There is a petition initiative going forward, so a lot of negotiations happening there. Always a big deal. Tax reform is going to very big, and transportation reform. What we’re seeing with UTA, trying to change the structure there, and get a little more faith with what’s happening with tax dollars is going to be very critical.
Question: You were able to take over as Governor for a few hours last month while Gary Herbert had surgery. It became a fun few days between you, your staff and the state. How was it?
Cox: Well, I’m glad the Governor is doing well, and that his surgery went well. That’s the most important thing. He was willing to play along. We had a lot of fun with it. We almost started a ground war with Wyoming. But things are good there, we’re good. We’re not getting the missing corner of our state back, but it was worth a try. Most importantly, Joe Ingles is my Lieutenant Governor. The Jazz haven’t lost since. I’m not going to take all the credit. Maybe a little bit.
If you have questions for any of our local authorities, email us at GMU@Good4Utah.com.