SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah House and Senate Democrats responded to the 2023 State of the State address on Thursday, Jan. 19, covering issues of water conservation, violence, education, and more.

Utah’s governor leads a State of the State meeting each year to review and evaluate the condition of Utah. Utah’s House and Senate representatives respond with issues they would like to focus on during the year.

“Today, our state is facing more challenges than ever, and it is critical we take steps now to address our most pressing issues,” said Utah House Minority Leader Rep. Angela Romero. “Water conservation, domestic violence and sexual assault, housing and homelessness, tax cuts, education, and access to healthcare…”

The water crisis was listed first in the Democrats’ State of the State response. 

“We know this affects everyone in the state, particularly the agriculture industry–an essential part of our rural communities,” Senate Minorty Leader Sen. Luz Escamilla said. “We need to act with greater urgency, use technology to find solutions, and lead with a spirit of innovation.”

Another issue discussed in the address was the housing crisis. Rep. Romero said that skyrocketing prices and a shortage of available units have contributed to this statewide problem. 

“Each of our communities bears the responsibility to ensure nobody is left out in the cold.” said Sen. Escamilla, “We must provide adequate shelter space and wraparound services for those experiencing homelessness.”

One of the other subjects covered in the address was the Democrats’ plans to improve healthcare in Utah. In 2022, Utah ranked 46th in the nation when it came to insuring children. An estimated 82,000 children in Utah are uninsured. 

“It is vital that all our kids and their families have access to high-quality, preventative medical care.” said Escamilla, “When this access is provided early on, it sets up our kids for success[…]” 

Another topic covered in the address was the public education system of Utah. The Democratic lawmakers stated that teacher pay was a priority, as well as smaller classroom sizes, full-day kindergarten, and increasing social support in schools.

 “As Democrats, we will continue to firmly oppose vouchers and other proposals that undermine and erode our public education system.” said Romero.

The Democratic representatives also discussed plans to build a budget, “for and by the people.”

“Investment in our state’s future not only takes deliberate forethought, research, and careful planning driven by data,” said Sen. Escamilla, ” but it also takes compassion and a diverse understanding of the needs of all Utahns..”

Escamilla also stated that the Democrats will advocate against impulsive tax cuts. 

This year Utah also broke a state record in its leadership.

“With new leadership, we have achieved not only the first all-female House,” said, House Minority Leader Angela Romero, “but also another first: Latinas as minority leaders in the Utah State Legislature.”

ABC4 carried Cox’s State of the State address live.