I suppose it’s no surprise that Utah politics mirror those at the national level. A lot of posturing and hot air to cover up the fact that our elected officials aren’t really doing anything to govern. Instead, they’re doing everything to protect their own interests and make things easier on themselves, their families and their friends.
Case in point from the 2011 Utah legislative session: healthcare for legislators. Utah legislators serve part time. During the year they meet for a 45 day scheduled session, as well as several special sessions during the rest of the year. When away from session they still have to deal with constituents, meetings, etc. I don’t know how much time our legislators actually spend working on the peoples’ business, but I’m going to be generous and say it’s 1040 hours per year, which is what a half time worker spends on the job. For their service, representatives and senators are paid between $15,000 and $35,000, which includes a per diem during sessions, as well as taxpayer funded healthcare. After 10 years of service (5 terms for representatives and 2.5 terms for senators) legislators and their spouses (excluding partners of GLBT legislators) receive taxpayer funded healthcare for life. Yes, you read that correctly; after 10 years of part time service, these folks and their husbands/wives get free healthcare for life.
Contrast that to workers in the state liquor agency stores who can make as little as $18,000 working full time (most work part time and make much less) and need to complete 30 years of service to secure healthcare benefits in retirement and it becomes clear who our elected officials are looking out for.
Representative John Dougall, R-Highland took issue with this perk (or is it pork) when he included provisions in HB 331 to end 100% taxpayer funded healthcare for legislators. The bill proposed that legislators who retire before 2013 would receive the benefit; legislators retiring after 2013 would not. The bill passed committee and passed a vote on the House floor; however, it didn’t make it out of committee in the Senate and died. This “just for show” vote on the House floor should be a wake up call to all voters in Utah.
It’s clear our legislators are protecting their own interests while they ignore the needs of the “commoners” in our state by adding to the unemployment rolls and refusing federal unemployment extension funds in order to “motivate people to get back to work.”